Health-e (Cape Town)

25 April 2014

South Africa: Finish Your Treatment and Live, Say Two Ex-TB Sufferers

The power of understanding and support gave two Saulsville residents the courage to see their tuberculosis (TB) treatment through to the end.

Both are now healthy and try to tell as many people as they can that a TB diagnosis is not a death sentence.

Paulina Mashapu, a 32-year-old from Saulville told OurHealth that she found out she had TB after losing weight and coughing for more than four weeks. Mashapu went to Bophelong Clinic and was referred to Kalafong Hospital for further check-ups and management.

"I was diagnosed with TB and admitted for seven days to recover, she said.

She was put on a six-month course of treatment and was told that it was important to stick to the treatment for the entire duration.

"I could not eat anything because of lack of appetite. I was nauseous a lot," she told OurHealth.

It was difficult at first for Mashupu and it took a while to accept that she had TB. But one thing she will never forget was her 15-year-old daughter asking her to try harder to take the treatment.

"I immediately started taking the treatment regularly and I have never looked back."

Bethuel Rapau found out after he had been diagnosed with TB that he was also HIV-positive.

"I started losing hope for life and defaulted on my TB treatment for a while until I became very weak."

Rapau says that he was referred from Kalafong Hospital to Sizwe Hospital because he developed multi-drug resistance tuberculosis (MDR TB). He then had to take treatment for two years.

My life turned around after some patients at the hospital started telling me that MDR TB is not the end of life, and that I could make it if I tried.

"My life turned around after some patients at the hospital started telling me that MDR TB is not the end of life, and that I could make it if I tried. I then took my treatment for two years from 2012 until January 2014."

Sister Mangena Mokoma at the Tshwane District Hospital said that all forms of TB could be cured. She explained that MDR TB is more complex than ordinary TB and can develop if patients do not take their TB treatment properly.

Treatment of for MDR TB includes a daily streptomycin injection for forty days and tablets for two years or more, depending on the patient.

Both former patients say they are willing to share their journey of TB with the rest of the world in order to save lives.

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