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Zambia tackles TB risk for HIV-positive women

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Summary of story on womensenews, June 22, 2011

HIV positive women in Zambia have an additional risk of developing tuberculosis because of weakened immune systems, poverty and malnutrition. They are also often the primary care-givers for TB patients.

The extra threat is being recognised by the government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and support groups who are taking action to prevent new TB cases and relapses.

Justina Banda, a 44 year old HIV-positive woman has had TB three times. She told how she feared another relapse as “it’s a challenge to take both TB and HIV drugs on an empty stomach”, as she can’t afford to eat three meals a day.

Banda is the main breadwinner for her family of six children and her 58 year old husband, who is HIV-negative but unemployed. Her second youngest child is also HIV-positive and was diagnosed with TB last year.

Banda washes other people’s clothes to make money, and says taking the TB drugs “paralyzes my duties. I wish there was a way I can avoid getting infected.”

Stella Maliwa of HIV support group Langa said the risk of TB transmission is exacerbated by poor ventilation in the homes of chronically ill patients and a lack of protective clothing for the women who care for them.

A 2010 UN report warned that adequate resources were necessary to tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS and TB if Zambia were to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goal to reduce these diseases.

  1. It’s been 30 years and we’ve lots millions to this disease and million more are infected. Please support re:solve AIDS. Re:solve AIDS is raising money to get a promising AIDS vaccine through testing and approval so that it can be distributed to everyone who needs it. http://bit.ly/e4ehI7

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