On Tuesday 24th July at the International Aids Society Conference in Washington DC, USA, the APPG on Global Tuberculosis hosted the workshop ‘Politics of Persuasion: Empowering and Engaging Elected Representatives to Tackle TB/HIV through Research’ . The session was facilitated by Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-chief of the Lancet, the world’s leading general medical journal on infectious diseases.
An audience of over 200 heard from guest speakers including Cathy Jamieson MP, member of the APPG on Global Tuberculosis, Pamela Nash MP, chair of the APPG on HIV/AIDS, Jirair Ratevosian, Legislative Director of the Hon Barbara Lee – co-founder of HIV/AIDS Caucus in House of Representatives, US Congress, Gavin Churchyard, CEO of the Arum institute and Jennifer Woolly, Director of Advocacy at Aeras. The panellists discussed the importance of gaining a clear understanding of how researchers can engage with parliamentarians using scientific evidence to build political support and help drive policy change at the national, regional and international level.
The session highlighted the importance of advocacy as an essential communication tool for both parliamentarians and at the community level to raise awareness of latest developments in research and better understanding their full potential and implications for combating TB and HIV. Panellists discussed and demonstrated through their presentations how researchers, advocates and parliamentarians can work in better synergy with each to address these twinned global epidemics.
In his opening remarks Dr Horton made a poignant statement:
“why don’t we take TB more seriously when talking about HIV? It is the leading killer of people living with HIV, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths, yet it does not get the attention the suffering and loss of life it causes warrants”.
Dr Horton pointed to an article in the Lancet published in 2010 called ‘The HIV-associated tuberculosis epidemic—when will we act?’, which highlighted that despite policies, strategies, and guidelines, the epidemic of HIV-associated tuberculosis continues to rage. Dr Horton stressed how important engagement with policy makers was to ensure appropriate action was taken to address HIV-TB co-infection.