For information regarding COVID-19 visit the South African Department of Health or WHO websites at https://sacoronavirus.co.za or www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

#UnmaskStigma Campaign

Stigma is a term describing the feeling of being ashamed, or experiencing societal disapproval in the way that other people treat you. TB is a stigmatised disease because it is often associated with HIV, poverty, drug and alcohol misuse, homelessness, being imprisoned or a refugee. Some people believe that only a ‘certain kind of person can get TB’, when the truth is anyone that breathes can get TB.

Stigma is a barrier to receive care – it makes it harder for TB patients to go to the clinic, get tested and receive treatment. Patients are afraid that family and friends will avoid them, that they might lose their job, and that their relationships can be harmed. By delaying seeking medical treatment, symptoms may worsen, making treatment more difficult, and the TB infection continues to spread in the community. Health workers can play an important role in treating people diagnosed with TB with compassion and respect, and avoid using stigmatizing language (for example calling someone a TB suspect or defaulter) or not respecting someone’s privacy.
We can all help to reduce the harmful effect of TB stigma in our communities by taking part in activities that break down false and unfair attitudes towards people with TB.

Aims

Destigmatize all forms of TB through interventions aimed at improving TB knowledge in communities and by encouraging affected people to share their experiences.

Project Achievements

The #UnmaskStigma Campaign aims to spark conversations about TB using social media platforms, drawing particular attention to the stigma experienced by individuals and communities regarding TB and HIV. We aim to reduce stigma by engaging the public through the sharing of personal TB stories, education and social mobilization. Collaborations were formed with 4 global advocacy organizations, 2 universities based outside South Africa, the CDC, WHO, 4 universities based inside South Africa, 8 local advocacy and non-profit organizations, 6 hospitals, 3 clinics and 2 celebrities. A website was created with written and video messaging reviewed by a WHO ethics expert.

Advocacy materials were designed and distributed to partners, including pamphlets on TB symptoms, prevention and stigma and using social media. Communities were encouraged to wear masks in solidarity with patients on World TB Day and post ‘selfies’ on social media to raise awareness. Several short-films were developed in collaboration with partners about local TB survivors and shown on 16 various platforms with presentations of the initiative, to encourage participation and describe activities, with a reach of approximately 9700 views. The initiative was promoted on Facebook pages (Facebook: 3631 likes; Unmask Stigma: 550 likes).

Our advocacy projects​​

Latent TB Treatment

Some people may have latent TB – where some is infected by the TB bacteria but they do not show TB symptoms and cannot infect others.

CHW TB Champions

A community health worker (CHW) is a representative of a specific community. They have earned the communities’ trust to enter their homes and assist them to improve their health status.
For many years patients were given a difficult choice: die because of drug resistant TB or become deaf as a results of the treatment.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) are three times more likely to be infected by TB than the general public and six times more likely to be hospitalized with drug-resistant TB.