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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid