TB and HIV: A Combination Made in Hell

We have interviewed many people living with TB in Tanzania and Nigeria, and Fatima’s fears and concerns are not unique. People with TB are commonly stigmatized in sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of accurate information about the disease is widespread.

These realities prevent people who believe they are infected with TB from seeking treatment. In many regions – and especially in rural areas – people still believe that TB patients have been bewitched, poisoned, or, as one Nigerian doctor put it, “cursed by the gods.”

More than half a million Africans and two million people globally die each year from TB, the leading infectious cause of death for people with HIV/AIDS. To make matters worse, HIV/AIDS is fueling a dramatic resurgence of TB. In Tanzania, for example, the number of TB cases increased almost six-fold between 1983 and 2003, from approximately 12,000 to 64,500. HIV/AIDS has resulted in a 6% annual increase in the prevalence of TB in Nigeria, which now has the highest number of new TB cases in Africa.

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