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No. 3, 2010

Dear Colleague:

We have kept up our usual busy pace in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE) despite the relentless heat of summer; a few items of note are provided here. From April 19 to 23, 2010, CDC held its 59th annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference. EIS is a postgraduate program of service and training for health professionals interested in applied epidemiology. DTBE has successfully recruited three new EIS officers, who recently started their 2-year assignments. Please see the related article in this issue.

The 2010 ATS International Conference was held in New Orleans from May 14 to 19, 2010. There were several TB-related sessions, with a number of our DTBE staff attending as invited speakers and presenters—a tribute to their expertise. We include in this issue a report on a joint TBTC/TBESC session that was held during the conference.

The 2010 National TB Conference was held June 21–24 in Atlanta, with the theme of “Innovate to Accelerate: On the Move to Eliminate TB.” As usual, the conference offered multiple sessions and activities, many occurring simultaneously to take full advantage of the time and space. The meeting provided inspiring presentations, informative case studies and posters, and ample opportunities to meet with colleagues, share ideas and experiences, learn about new methods and technologies, and celebrate our colleagues’ successes. This issue includes a section of articles relating to the conference; I hope you will take a moment to read them.

The Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (ACET) met in Atlanta the week after that, on June 29 and 30.  Dr. Hazel Dean, Deputy Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), reported that Dr. Frieden testified to Congress in April 2010 on antibiotic resistance; TB was among the high-priority infections he discussed. In my DTBE updates, I reported on the June 22–24 National TB Conference in which DTBE staff had recently participated, and announced the June 25 release of CDC’s new IGRA guidelines, “Updated guidelines for using Interferon gamma release assays to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection – United States, 2010,” MMWR 2010; 59 (No.RR-5).

I also reported on NCHHSTP efforts to promote health equity and social determinants of health, and outlined DTBE activities in support of health equity. One such effort is the toolkit, Working Together to Stop TB -- Building Community Partnerships to Eliminate TB in African-American Communities, developed to help public health workers raise awareness about TB in the African-American community. A small cohort of TB programs will pilot test the toolkit and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. We include an article about the project in this issue.

Andrew Rein, MS, CDC’s Associate Director for Policy, was on hand to discuss the Affordable Care Act and public health. He characterized the Affordable Care Act as a real opportunity for public health. As provided for by the Act, the President has already established, within the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, to help begin to develop a National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy; the U.S. Surgeon General serves as the Chairperson of the new Council. The Act also provides for new funding for a variety of health programs.

Dr. Stuart Berman reported on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of health experts who make recommendations regarding which preventive services should be routinely incorporated into primary medical care, and whose recommendations will determine, under the new Act, which preventive health items or services will be fully covered by health insurance. He asked ACET to consider whether or not CDC or ACET should pursue a high recommendation from the Task Force for screening for latent TB infection.

We also heard from Dr. Bill Burman on an initiative to involve children in the TB drug development process, which will improve treatment and outcomes in this population. A number of other updates were given on domestic as well as international issues. Several of these updates were also presented at the National TB Conference and thus will not be repeated here, since many TB Notes readers were at the conference. The next ACET meeting will be held in the fall of 2010; we will confirm the date later.

We’ve designated Dr. Jessie Wing as DTBE’s point-of-contact for activities related to the Affordable Care Act. In conjunction with the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association (NTCA), she has planned a consultation for October 7 to explore how TB prevention and control can be advanced in the context of health reform.

The TB Education and Training Network/TB Program Evaluation Network (TB ETN/TB PEN) Annual Conference was held August 10–12, 2010, in Atlanta. This year’s meeting focused on partnerships, social determinants of health, capacity building, and tools that enhance TB education, training, and program evaluation. Conference activities included skills-based workshops, informational presentations, and networking opportunities. In addition, this year TB ETN celebrates 10 years of bringing together TB professionals to network, share resources, and build education and training skills. In recognition of this milestone, a special reception was held on August 10. Congratulations to TB ETN for this achievement and best wishes for many more years to come!

Kenneth G. Castro, MD


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