South Africa: Activists Lament Lack of HIV/TB Co-Treatment
March 31, 2009
On World TB Day, March 24, activists marching on Cape Town's Parliament called on the government to devote more time and resources to the dual epidemics of HIV and TB. Most of the country's public health facilities continue to treat the diseases independently.
Liz Thebus, a nurse in Cape Town's public health sector for 30 years who now works for the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, said the need is urgent. "TB and HIV go hand in hand. Everyone knows it. So many people who are living with HIV are dying of TB, despite the fact that the disease is completely curable," she said. "Every clinic, hospital, and other medical facility in South Africa should be able to test and treat people for both diseases."
"Health care workers should receive proper training when it comes to diagnosing TB in people living with HIV," said Thebus. Since TB skin tests do not always indicate disease in HIV-infected patients -- "sometimes their immune systems are too weak to respond to the test," she explained -- additional screenings may be necessary. "Health care workers should be taught to look further than the first test results, especially if a patient is symptomatic," she said.
Inter Press Service
03.26.2009; Miriam Mannak
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.