Hour 10

Tuberculosis (TB) is a co-infection often associated with HIV, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. TB is curable for most people, yet more than a million die from it each year. Scaling up effective efforts to prevent and/or treat TB is necessary both to better control the disease and to succeed in the global response to it.

Matt McDonell is joined in the studio by Professor Michael Kidd, who describes how tuberculosis was almost eradicated in Australia in the 1970s but has again become an issue locally since HIV arrived in the 1980s.

Down at Federation Square, Dean Beck catches up with Bill Bowtell from Pacific Friends of the Global Fund. Since its inception, the Global Fund has raised over US$30 billion, half of which has gone directly to providing treatment for HIV worldwide. Bill reminds us that while Australia has an HIV problem, the rest of the world has an AIDS problem – and treatment is at the core of the difference. He reflects on the changing nature of HIV stigma in Australia over the past three decades and praises Australia’s bipartisan approach to funding HIV research. In the Asia-Pacific region TB and HIV co-infection is a major issue, and Bill suggests that governments should spend more money on this issue rather than on aircraft carriers and military reinforcements.

Matt then asks Michael how we respond to the co-infection issue in areas that are geographically challenging. Michael highlights the need for the response to engage with community at all levels and for health-care providers to be adequately resourced.

Dr Peter Higgs joins the conversation to speak of the challenges faced by injecting drug users throughout Asia, many of whom are co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C. Peter’s work in Vietnam highlights the tremendous amount of work that still needs to be done throughout the Asia-Pacific and how stigma in the region is a major barrier to effectively stopping infections. According to Michael, Australia has a direct responsibility to fund and support global health initiatives, particularly with its near neighbours. As many Australians like to travel, there is always the potential for communicable diseases to be brought back home.

Guests

Bill Bowtell AO
Executive Director of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund
Professor Michael Kidd AM
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Flinders University and Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections
Dr Peter Higgs
Early Career Research Fellow with the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University

Hosted by Matt McDonell and Dean Beck

Watch the video above or listen to the audio below: