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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 1, 2011

Dear Colleague:

Despite the budget uncertainties that all U.S. government agencies are facing, CDC continues to carry out its important work. While we are pleased that the President’s proposed budget for FY 2012 increases funding for most programs at the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), it proposes about a 1 percent reduction to funding for TB elimination. The proposed budget does provide CDC, as well as CDC’s HIV, STD, TB, and viral hepatitis grantees, an option to transfer up to 5 percent of funds between programs to address syndemics among populations with, or at risk for, at least two or more of the above-mentioned infections. Funds may also be used by a program to enlist other programs in responding to acute needs. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

The March meeting of the Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (ACET) was cancelled. The next ACET meeting is scheduled for June here in Atlanta.

World TB Day was March 24. For 2011, CDC’s World TB Day theme was TB Elimination: Together We Can!  DTBE’s World TB Day website is a rich source of information and materials for TB control programs and other partners to use in planning and carrying out their World TB Day activities. Please visit the website to see the variety of activities that were planned for this year. The website is http://www.cdc.gov/tb/events/WorldTBDay/default.htm.

As we have done in past years, DTBE hosted a World TB Day observance on March 24 at the Roybal Campus. The keynote speaker was Dr. Alan Hinman, Senior Public Health Scientist at the Task Force for Global Health and former Director of the Center for Prevention Services (precursor of our current center, NCHHSTP). Other invited speakers included Dr. Kevin DeCock, Director of CDC’s Center for Global Health, and Dr. Bisrat Abraham, EIS officer in DTBE; I was on hand as well. Presentations focused on TB and HIV coinfection and the status of TB in the United States. We were pleased that Dr. Frieden’s Grand Rounds session for March, “TB & HIV: A Deadly Duo,” was held on the same day, preceding the observance. I hope that DTBE and other CDC staff were able to attend both the Grand Rounds session as well as the World TB Day observance.

DTBE worked with a variety of partners to plan and host the 5th Annual TB Awareness Walk, which was held on Saturday, March 19. The walk is held in connection with World TB Day, March 24, to educate the public and raise awareness about TB. The event, a 2-mile walk around the perimeter of Atlanta’s Grant Park, was a great success – organizers estimate that over 800 people participated this year.

Also in commemoration of World TB Day, the March issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases has a TB theme. If you have not yet seen this issue, I hope you will take a few moments to do so; the journal is at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/index.htm

We are very encouraged by the results of TB Trials Consortium Study 26. Called the “PREVENT TB Study: 3 Months of Once-weekly Rifapentine + INH vs. 9 Months of Daily INH for Treatment of Latent TB Infection,” this regimen has the potential to provide the shortest preventive therapy regimen yet. This study is likely to change the way we treat latent TB infection. New guidelines are expected to be released in the next few months.

Please note that two of the branches in DTBE have recently undergone name changes. The branch formerly known as the Clinical and Health Systems Research Branch (CHSRB) will now be called the Clinical Research Branch (CRB), reflecting the branch’s current responsibilities. In addition, the former Mycobacteriology Laboratory Branch (MLB) will henceforth be named simply the Laboratory Branch (LB). We have an item in this issue from the LB with the rationale for their name change.

In early February, I sent out information to state TB control programs about the availability of laboratory testing for the molecular detection of drug resistance (MDDR). To reiterate, we recommend that laboratories continue to ensure that conventional drug susceptibility testing be performed along with molecular testing. Rapid molecular tests should be used to supplement, but not replace, culture and conventional drug susceptibility testing. Since September 2009, DTBE’s Laboratory Branch has offered the MDDR service for rapid DNA sequence analysis of isolates known or suspected of drug resistance. The MDDR service is available at no cost to public health laboratories as both a primary means of detecting drug resistance and as a secondary confirmation for labs performing in-house assays.

We are making preparations for the 2011 National TB Conference, to be held June 15–17 in Atlanta. The conference will be preceded with special meetings on Monday and Tuesday, June 13 and 14, and will be followed by meetings on Friday afternoon, June 17. Invited participants for the conference include state and big city TB Controllers, TB Nurse Consultants, TB Program Managers, DTBE field staff, TB laboratory staff, the National Society of TB Clinicians, and Regional Training and Medical Consultation Center (RTMCC) leadership. Please register for the 2011 National TB Conference at either http://tbcontrollers.org/ or http://www.cdc.gov/tb/. The conference is listed under Events on both sites. The theme for the National TB Conference is “TB Control: Facing Challenges – Discovering Solutions.” As usual, breakout sessions will be included to enhance discussions and allow participants to share their program experiences and successes. This meeting is an important forum that brings state, local, territorial, and other TB control professionals together with colleagues from CDC to discuss a wide array of medical, technical, and programmatic TB issues.

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) is holding its 7th National Conference on Laboratory Aspects of TB June 13-15, in conjunction with the National TB Conference. For additional information about this conference, please visit the APHL website.

I hope you are able to attend one of these important meetings!

Kenneth G. Castro, MD
Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS, &
Commanding Flag Officer
CDC/ATSDR Commissioned Corps
Director, Division of Tuberculosis Elimination
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis,
STD, and TB Prevention

 

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