Innovations in South Africa Help Tackle TB and HIV
August 30, 2012
A mobile clinic called the "Tutu Tester" is one of many innovations in Africa helping to tackle some of the continent's lingering problems, including an epidemic of TB/HIV co-infections. To help overcome stigma associated with TB and HIV, the Tutu Tester van incorporates screening for the two infections into a general health check-up.
An estimated 5.7 million people in South Africa are HIV-infected. Over the last two decades HIV has fueled the nation's TB rate to where it now stands, the third highest in the world. However, communities most affected by HIV still have inadequate access to voluntary counseling and testing services, according to the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.
The Tutu Tester helps solve that problem by taking sophisticated testing equipment and trained staff into areas lacking adequate health facilities. People are encouraged to get tested for TB and HIV by including the tests within a battery of other routine wellness checks, such as those for diabetes, hypertension or pregnancy.
Testing data from these screens show that "the increase in TB has quite clearly tracked the increase in HIV rates," said Dr. Linda-Gail Bekker, a leading scientist working with the foundation.
"The outside world does not know whether someone wants to be screened for HIV or diabetes," said Liz Thebus, a Tutu Tester health worker. "They are, in that respect, much more anonymous."
The Guardian (London)
08.26.2012; Olivia Honigsbaum
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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