Patrick Mubanga lives in a one-room house in the Katimondo Township in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia, with his wife Alice and their six children. The family earns a living by selling tomatoes, sweet potatoes and other groceries to passers-by.
When Patrick fell ill he thought his symptoms were just a ‘common illness’, although they were typical of TB: weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue and night sweats. He knew a little about tuberculosis, but didn’t think he could be at risk. Patrick believed that you caught TB by sleeping with a woman who had had an abortion.
Patrick soon became too ill to work. The family often went hungry, as they could only eat on days where they had made enough money from grocery sales. Fortunately, a volunteer from the COTHAZ project knocked on their door. The volunteer recognised Patrick’s symptoms and encouraged him to go for voluntary counselling and testing for TB and HIV. Patrick was diagnosed with TB-HIV co-infection.
Twelve months on, Patrick has completed treatment for TB through directly observed treatment. He is also taking anti-retroviral therapy for HIV. With support from the COTHAZ project, Patrick felt able to talk about his condition. He wanted to do so to fight his own stigma and to help breakdown stigma in others. Now he and his wife now work as volunteers for COTHAZ themselves.