World TB Day: Get Tested for HIV and TB
At a public march in the Cape Town city centre on 18 March 2013 in view of World TB day, the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said the dual scourge of HIV and TB can only be dealt with if a patient is diagnosed.
“That is why it is so important that if you feel the symptoms or suspect that you might have TB, that you visit your nearest clinic and get tested. Once you have been diagnosed, we can treat you and you can get better. We can get better together,” said Minister Botha. He addressed a crowd standing with umbrellas outside the Cape Town station in support of World TB Day that will be on Sunday, 24 March.
Minister Botha said this year the national World TB Day commemorations are appropriately hosted in the Western Cape with the third Global Forum on TB vaccines to be held in Cape Town from 25-27 March 2013. The theme is “Zero TB & HIV infections, deaths, stigma and discrimination in my lifetime” and is adopted from the national strategic plan 2012 – 2016.
In addition the World Health Organization launch of guidelines for the management of TB and HIV in correctional facilities set the scene for the focus on children and prisoners. That is why the TB screening and HCT campaing campaign in correctional facilities will be launched at Pollsmoor Prison on Sunday, World TB Day. Other TB awareness activities in the Western Cape for the month include the current TB screening and HCT campaign in Enkanini in Khayelitsha, the Kick-TB campaign focussing on children, and an event for patients at the Brooklyn Chest Hospital School.
In the Western Cape new research innovations have been implemented in the past year with the introduction of GeneXpert (GXP) testing in the Metro and in the Overberg through the Fraunhofer Institute’s bio-safety level 3 mobile laboratory in Caledon for the diagnosis of TB. This technology allows for TB results as well as drug sensitivity to Rifampicin within 2 hours. In the near future the state-of-the-art technology will be rolled out to the Cape Winelands and Central Karoo by April 2013.
Since 2008 a decline in the number of identified cases has been observed. This trend coincides with the expanded access to Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) for patients infected with HIV and TB. The TB programme monitors the decline in TB numbers closely. Further interventions include the screening of all the contacts of TB positive patients, and increased emphasis on TB screening of public patients. Services offered for dually infected individuals include:
• TB Testing for HIV positive individuals
• HIV testing for all TB patients
• Access to HIV wellness care
• Since December 2012 access to ART’s irrespective of CD4 count
• Isoniazid Preventative Therapy (IPT)
• Co-Trimoxazole Preventative Therapy (CPT)
Minister Botha says: “There has been an increase in TB cure rates since 2004, with the proportion of patients not responding to treatment maintained at less than 2%. The patients who interrupt their treatment remains a challenge. The successes in TB treatment can partly be ascribed to the increase in the numbers of community-based health workers who supervise treatment.”