8th South African TB Conference

The 8th South African TB Conference takes place in Durban from 4 – 7 June 2024 under the theme ‘Accelerating progress to end TB’.

TB HIV Care joins government, funders, partners and other stakeholders at the conference to put the spotlight on TB – and focus on strategies that bring South Africa closer to ending TB as a public health threat by 2030. These include:

  • targeted universal testing for TB (TUTT);
  • tuberculosis preventive therapy (TPT);
  • integrated TB and HIV services; and
  • new, community-led interventions like OneImpact South Africa.

As Prof. Harry Hausler, CEO of TB HIV Care, explains, TUTT focuses on testing those most vulnerable to TB, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.

“Often people are asymptomatic, and a delayed diagnosis allows TB to spread more easily, results in more complications and can even result in more deaths,” says Prof. Hausler. “With TUTT, we can ensure high-risk groups receive immediate sputum GeneXpert/NAAT testing, allowing them to start treatment early and be cured!” These groups include people living with HIV, newly diagnosed HIV-positive individuals, HIV-positive women who are pregnant, people who have had TB in the last two years, and close contacts of people with TB.

For Prof. Hausler, TUTT works hand in hand with TB preventive therapy (TPT) to address the high TB burden in South Africa.

“TPT is incredibly important in the fight against TB. It should be offered to anyone who has been significantly exposed to TB or is at risk of developing active TB disease. This includes all close TB contacts; adults, adolescents and children living with HIV; and people living with silicosis,” explains Prof. Hausler. “Importantly, South Africa has new guidelines and shorter regimens for TPT, making it much easier for clients.”

TB HIV Care Programme Director (Care & Treatment) Sandile Prusente believes that in the context of limited resources and competing program demands, integrating HIV and TB services is critical for the sustainability of programs.

“South Africa has a strong HIV programme. We have every opportunity to incorporate TUTT and TPT into HIV services, this means offering TB testing to people living with HIV at their annual viral loads; testing newly diagnosed HIV-positive clients (including those returning to care); and testing HIV-positive mothers-to-be at their first antenatal visit,” says Prusente.

New community-led interventions and innovations can also inform and impact South Africa’s TB response says Alison Best, TB HIV Care’s Community, Rights and Gender Specialist.

“One example is OneImpact South Africa, a platform whereby people affected by TB can engage with TB services, report any challenges or barriers, flag stigma or discrimination, get trusted information on TB, and chat online with other people with TB and survivors to get support. At the conference we will be presenting some of the work done in the Free State where some of the barriers to ex-miners accessing compensation for silicosis and/or TB have been recorded. These include a lack of knowledge of how to apply for compensation and a lack of resources to comply with the application process.”

The TB HIV Care team will be at stand 48 at the conference. All media enquiries to linsey.schluter@tbhivcare.org