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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid