Africare News Release
Women with TB & HIV
November 29, 2011
By Dr. Kechi Achebe, Africare
Women bear a disproportionate burden of Africa’s poverty -- a staggering 70 percent. Women must labor not only this under burden, but the burden of being the backbone of the rural economies, food production systems and providing basic necessities for their families. If a woman has TB, there is no one else to do the work.
The Africare Clinical Team provides technical support to the Nkwenkwezi Clinic, which is located in Nkwenkwezi, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This month, the clinic shares Shoza’s story -- a story of hope for women at risk for TB.
"Hello, my name is Shoza, and I was born in 1970. I would like to tell you a short story of my experiences with Nkwenkwezi Clinic and about my illness.
Last year I became ill – I had a cough, and I was losing weight so I went to the clinic in my area – Nkwenkwezi Clinic. I explained my illness to the clinic nurse. She checked me up, and then gave me some tablets to take at home. She also gave me some small bottles, and told me to cough my phlegm into the bottle – she said she wanted to send these bottles to the lab to check for TB disease. The nurse told me that when I come to the clinic, I must take a tissue and cover my mouth and nose when I cough – and she pointed out to me where I could get the tissue from.
A few days later, I returned to the clinic, as recommended by the clinic nurse. The results of my tests were back – I had Tuberculosis. The nurse then counselled me on TB, and also spoke to me about HIV disease. I agreed to have an HIV test, as the nurse also explained that with HIV, it is more difficult for my body to fight the TB disease. She did the HIV test for me at the clinic – she said the results would be ready in a few minutes – the blood would not have to go to the lab for the test. After doing the test, the nurse then told me my result: I was HIV Positive. Of course, I was very sad, but she discussed the two diseases with me, and I realized that my life was not over.
Previously I also used to drink beers – she told me that this would not be good for me to do anymore, and she encouraged me to make some lifestyle changes. She then took some bloods and did some more check-ups on me. She said that when my results are all back she will discuss my disease with the doctor who comes to the clinic to help with managing patients like me.
Now it is a year since my TB and HIV diagnoses. I am not sick from TB anymore. I feel much better now. The nurse told me that I no longer have TB. My appetite has improved so much. I no longer eat the porridge from the clinic – I don’t need it anymore. I had some rashes on my skin before, and now they have all gone away. I am putting on weight, and everyone says that I look so beautiful now. I can now do all my daily work at home. I will definitely recommend my friends and family to test themselves for TB and HIV, and if they have the diseases like me, I will also tell them how much good the treatment has done for me."
At the end of the interview, Shoza was in tears. On probing by the nurse, she said: “these are tears of happiness – I never knew I would get better and feel so good again when I was told I had TB and HIV! Shoza continues the HIV Treatment Program at Nkwenkwezi Clinic.