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South Africa's fight against TB and HIV

Reporter: Yolisa Njamela 丨 CCTV.com

10-11-2016 17:33 BJT

The South African health minister says the country is making great strides in combating tuberculosis and HIV. South Africa ranks third in a list of 22 countries with the most TB cases. And patients with HIV are 26 times more likely to contract TB. But health officials say there are signs that the tide is turning.

According to the World Health Organization three quarters of the world’s patients who are co-infected – meaning - suffering from both TB and HIV/Aids – live on the African continent.

TB alone kills more people annually than HIV/Aids, and in combination, the two diseases are lethal. South Africa's Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi is the chairperson of the United Nation's International Board of Stop TB partnership. He has been at the forefront of the fight against these epidemics.

"TB has now overtaken HIV as the biggest killer of all infectious diseases, unfortunately people don't know that. The second thing is that over the past two hundred years, TB has killed more people than HIV and AIDS, than malaria, than Ebola, than polio, than influenza, all of them added together, TB has killed more people than those. If you are HIV positive your chances of getting TB increases by three hundred percent. If you're diabetic, your chances increase by five hundred percent, if you have silicosis from silica dust which is largely obtained from gold mines, your chance of getting TB increases by six hundred percent. If you're HIV positive and you also have silicosis, your chances increases by one thousand eight hundred percent," said Doctor Aaron Motsoaledi from South African Health Minister.

The World Health Organization asserts that the risk of developing TB is estimated to be between 26 and 31 times greater in people living with HIV than among those without HIV infection. In 2014 there were 9.6 million new cases of TB, of which 1.2 million were among people living with HIV.
Dr Motsoaledi says although TB is the leading cause of death in the country, in the past decade South Africa has dramatically improved its TB treatment strategies.

"The number of people who were dying from both diseases was absolutely out of this world. By 2009 in this country, seventy thousand people were dying of TB annually," said Doctor Aaron Motsoaledi.

Now more than 70 percent of those who develop the disease are successfully cured.

The figure has gone down to about forty thousand. For HIV and AIDS the number of deaths were about 350 thousand annually. The figure has come down to about 180 thousand so you can see that is progress. If I take you back to 2004, seventy thousand children used to be born HIV positive every year but because of our success of prevention of mother to child transmission, that figure has come down to less than six thousand. That we regard as huge success," said Doctor Aaron Motsoaledi.

South Africa still has much more to do to win the battle against TB and HIV and AIDS.

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