TB in pregnancy can be cured

Written by Cynthia Maseko

Mpumalanga – When 24-year-old Gabisile Zulu discovered she was pregnant she was thrilled. Her joy was short lived because she was also diagnosed with tuberculosis – she was now fighting two diseases, HIV and TB.

“I have lived with HIV for more than six years and accepted my status with all the responsibilities that come with it, but the news of my TB results overwhelmed me. I was given treatment for TB but my in-laws wanted me to use traditional medicine. They said my unborn needed the medicine so that he will grow healthy and strong,” she said.

Zulu was confused by all the information. “At the antenatal clinic I was told to never use traditional medicine because it was not good, but my in-laws told me it’s their culture to take traditional medicine while pregnant.”

Regular monitoring

She was reluctant to start the TB medication but after attending a few sessions at the clinic where her midwife explained to her the importance of adhering to treatment, Zulu started taking the medication. She was monitored at the clinic regularly.

According to Hlezephi Skhosana, a nurse and TB specialist, untreated TB represents a greater hazard to a pregnant woman and her fetus than its treatment.

Skhosana said HIV-positive pregnant women with TB are encouraged to adhere to treatment because TB can be successfully treated in pregnancy. She also advises women to disclose their status to their midwife so after delivery the newborn baby can be given the appropriate treatment.

After giving birth Zulu’s newborn was put on treatment and after six months her baby, Gift, tested negative to TB.

About the author

Cynthia Maseko

Cynthia Maseko joined OurHealth in 2013 as a citizen journalist working in Mpumalanga. She is passionate about women’s health issues and joined Treatment Action Campaign branch as a volunteer after completing her matric. As an activist she has been involved with Equal Treatment, Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and also with Marie Stopes Clinic’s project Blue Star dealing with the promotion of safe abortions and HIV education.