“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.