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HIV and TB: what rarely makes the headline

by Archives November 11, 2008

“There have been so few TB survivors who have stepped forward to share their stories. We need more advocates like Winstone to tell the world about TB and the effect it has on so many millions of people.” – Nelson Mandela, 2004 Bangkok AIDS Conference
Young Winstone Zulu rose with the sun and walked the many miles to school on that early September morning.
It was a difficult journey as Winston struggled to keep up with the other children. As an infant, a case of polio had left him crippled and unable to walk without the use of crutches.
But the excitement he shared with the other school children masked the inconvenience of his disability.
When Winstone arrived at the schoolhouse, the headmaster ordered him and the other children to line up against the far wall.
A tall, healthy looking boy was picked from the crowd and another soon joined him on the other side of the room.
They had been chosen to enter the first grade.
The headmaster moved farther down the line and stopped in front of Winstone.
He stood a few inches shorter than the other children and grasped his pair of crutches.
The headmaster had seen Winstone before, year after year, eager to enter school. However, at the same time, children with disabilities were seen as a burden upon the Zambian education system.
If he was to allow Winstone to go to school that would mean another student’s place had been taken by someone who, as he put it, “just wasn’t worth it.”
“You,” said the headmaster, pointing to the child on Winstone’s right.
For the third year in a row, Winstone watched his friends eagerly get ready for school in the morning; off to learn about a world he so desperately wanted to be a part of.
It is this story that has characterized Winstone’s life – one of struggle and discrimination.
“I have to wonder how some people can be so fortunate to encounter such little difficulty in their own lives,” he says, greeting a crowd of Concordia students, faculty and visitors, last Thursday evening.
Born in 1964 to a family of 13 in Lusaka, Zambia, Zulu has watched as his fellow Africans have suffered from disease, famine, and a lack of available medical treatment.
In 1990, Zulu was the first Zambian to go public with the fact he was HIV positive and has since spent the past 18 years speaking out about the difficulties he faces every day.
“Most of the children I grew up with are now dead, and all four of my brothers passed away from tuberculosis,” he said. “When I first came out and told people I was HIV positive, I really felt I had nothing left to lose. I honestly believed I was going to die.”
Noted for his frank discussion of the effects of tuberculosis and HIV on himself and his country, Zulu has attracted worldwide attention from figures such as Nelson Mandela and Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan.
“What people don’t realize is that 80 per cent

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