HomeArticlesThe South Africans who unmasked TB stigma

The South Africans who unmasked TB stigma

Media professionals and health workers wore surgical masks to fight TB stigma on World TB Day.

Tuberculosis (TB) activists inspired many media professionals, including journalists at the Mail & Guardian Mail & Guardian, to take part in the #UnmaskStigma campaign on World TB Day on March 24 last week. This involved posting a selfie of themselves on social media wearing a surgical mask.

The masks are a symbol of the stigma that people with TB face — patients are required to wear them in public during the time that they are infectious (this is generally the first two to four weeks of treatment for ordinary TB).  Although mostly treatable, tuberculosis kills someone every 25 seconds, according to the World Health Organisation. Some forms of the TB bacterium have become resistant to commonly used medicines. This makes a large number of people increasingly fear TB patients and stigmatise them.

Here are some of the tweets from the campaign:

Earlier in the office, standing in solidarity with those suffering from TB. #WorldTBDay #UnmaskStigma pic.twitter.com/PpmvwAbLj1

— Pontsho Pilane (@Pontsho_Pilane) March 24, 2016

@HEPSatUCT staff wearing our masks to raise awareness of TB & TB associated stigma #UnmaskStigma #WorldTBDay pic.twitter.com/bnYXbJ7ql7

— Nicola (@cltnic004) March 24, 2016