Guardian Examines Effect of HIV/AIDS on TB Epidemic in South African Township
The Guardian on Saturday as part of its annual Christmas charity appeal examined how the HIV/AIDS epidemic is fueling the spread of tuberculosis in the South African township of Khayelitsha, which is "at the heart of a worldwide TB epidemic that has hit South Africa hard." Khayelitsha's rate of TB infection -- already four times what the World Health Organization defines as a medical crisis -- is continuing to rise, and the disease is the primary cause of death among HIV-positive people in the township. The HIV/AIDS epidemic also is "distorting" TB so that it "bears only a faint resemblance" to the disease that once affected developed countries, according to the Guardian. Although TB primarily affected the lungs 20 years ago, it is a "different disease now" because HIV-positive people are susceptible to TB infection in other parts of their bodies, Peter Saranchuk, a doctor at the Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic in Khayelitsha, said. TB "can hit you anywhere between your feet and your brain," including the abdomen, kidneys and breasts, according to Saranchuk. MSF, which is treating more than 2,000 patients for the two diseases in the township, says there is a shortage of medical staff to cover the increasing number of TB and HIV/AIDS patients. The crisis is exacerbated by the clinic's TB diagnostic methods, which produce results in six weeks, according to the Guardian (McGreal, Guardian, 12/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.