Worldwide partnership fights TB

06 February 2008 | Story by Chris McEvoy

Working together: Executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, Dr Marcos Espinal was the keynote speaker at the TB Symposium held at UCT's Faculty of Health Sciences.

Dr Marcos Espinal, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, was the keynote speaker at the tuberculosis symposium held at UCT's Faculty of Health Sciences on 4 February.

The symposium, titled Partnership for the Development of New TB Vaccines, spotlighted the partnership between three organisations working to ease the global burden of tuberculosis.

The organisations, the Stop TB Partnership, UCT's South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) and the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, are making great strides in increasing support and applying scientific knowledge to the development of new, more effective TB vaccines.

During his visit to Cape Town, Espinal toured the SATVI primary field site and laboratory facilities at UCT, meeting with researchers and clinical trial volunteers.

"The work being conducted by SATVI to develop a new vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) is a model for researchers globally," said Espinal. "Finding a new TB vaccine is critical to ending the tuberculosis pandemic in South Africa and around the world."

South Africa has one of the highest TB infection rates in the world, largely because of the concurrent HIV epidemic. About 13% of South Africans are living with HIV, which weakens the immune system and makes it more likely that people will develop TB. Some 60% of people with TB in South Africa are also living with HIV.

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