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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora