News / Africa

World AIDS Conference to Focus on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis

A South African tuberculosis patient with his physician
A South African tuberculosis patient with his physician
Debra Daugherty

Twenty-five thousand people are expected to gather in Vienna July 18 to 23 for the World AIDS Conference.  Global health experts will focus on a lethal line-up - HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis. TB is a leading cause of HIV-related deaths worldwide. The World Health Organization says 40 percent of people with TB in South Africa also have HIV. The co-infection rate is highest in the township of Kayelitsha.  And, there is a growing threat from multi-drug resistant TB, an aggressive strain that is much more difficult to treat.  

Caregiver Mercy Nongongo runs a small soup kitchen from a tiny shack.  She buys the ingredients with her own money and makes sure that TB patients have something to eat before taking their medicine.  

"They know that the work I'm doing is going to help them," said Mercy Nongongo. "They believe in me."

TB has a firm grip on the township of Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town. Patientsat the community clinic say despite being sick, they are hopeful.  The clinic has seen an increase in the number of people with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis or MDR TB. It's a virulent strain that occurs when a person with TB fails to complete the six to nine-month course of medication or catches TB from another person who is ill with a drug resistant-strain. The problem?  It often takes more than two months to diagnose MDR-TB.

Dr. Sweetness Siwendu treats TB patients at Site C Clinic:

"It would be really great if we could have a vaccine - and if not, then at least be able to diagnose TB as soon as possible - preferably within the same day," said Dr. Siwendu.

On the other side of town, scientists are working on a genetic test they hope will cut the time it takes to diagnose MDR-TB from 70 days to two days. Their work dovetails with research at the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative where Dr. Sizulu Moyo and other researchers are trying to develop vaccines to prevent TB.

"I think the prospects are good," said Dr. Moyo. "There are a lot of players that have come in - and there's a lot of support from organizations such as the WHO… I think that creates a good environment where people can work and make progress in getting together a new vaccine."

While researchers continue to work on vaccines, the key is to raise awareness around treating TB.

The World Health Organization aims to reduce by half the number of people who die from tuberculosis by the year 2015.  Communities like Kayelitsha are key.  Here, care at home and in a clinic helps people follow through on their treatment.

"No one today need die of TB," said Dr. Marcos Espinal. "No child should see the life of a mother or father destroyed by a disease that is completely curable. We need to challenge governments, decision-makers and community leaders to stand together to fight TB and eventually wipe out this devastating disease."

And it's people like Gladys Jaxa, says Dr. Marcos Espinal of the Stop TB Partnership, who would  benefit. She has MDR-TB and now is dependent on Mercy Nongongo for medicine. It's vital that she completes the course of up to two years of pills and injections. If she lapses, she could infect 10 to 15 people a year, one or two of whom may develop full blown TB or MDR-TB. But while the medication can be unpleasant, Jaxa is already noticing the difference it makes.

"Before the treatment, I couldn't even walk….I was hopeless," said Gladys Jaxa. "Now after treatment, I can even go to the toilet, I can go to the shop, I can do little things."

It's the little things that Mercy Nongono and her helpers do best for their patients. But those little things make a big difference.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid