HIV, TB Cut Lesotho Life Expectancy to a Mere 36 Years
March 29, 2010
Doctors Without Borders (DWB) estimates that 80 to 90 percent of Lesotho's TB patients are co-infected with HIV. Medical experts are concerned the situation in this mountainous kingdom in southern Africa foreshadows what could be the world's next major health crisis.
Lesotho has the world's third-highest prevalence of HIV and its fourth-highest TB prevalence. Poverty and violence complicate treatment, and life expectancy is just 36 years.
"I'm calling for serious attention to TB, and serious attention to TB/HIV co-infection," said UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe.
Most of Lesotho's health clinics were set up through partnerships between the government and international groups. To make the most of scarce resources, DWB runs a program in which nurses are trained to take on the roles and responsibilities of physicians. Community health workers then follow up with patients to ensure they are abiding by their treatment regime.
Some Lesotho patients must walk five hours to reach a clinic to receive their medicines. Such a journey can be dangerous. "It is a problem for us to come to the clinic because sometimes there are gangster men waiting down by the side of the river and yes, sometimes women are raped," said a 21-year-old woman co-infected with HIV and TB.
03.24.2010; Nastasya Tay