Kami, Takalani Sesame’s HIV+ Muppet is off to Washington with Gerry D Elsdon

Kami is HIV-positive andappears in the international award-winning South African TV series Takalani Sesame.  Kami promotes age-appropriate messages concerning the humanization, de-stigmatization and acceptance of people living with HIV.  Kami urges open discussion about issues such as coping with illness and loss. Kami, who has many friends, loves to play soccer and wears a necklace that her mother made especially for her.

Gerry Elsdon is co-hosting the talk with Jeanne Meserve, a former reporter for CNN and ABC News.  The talk show brings together a dynamic group of women and young people who have suffered from tuberculosis and HIV.

Lolli Goodson acting head of children at the SABC explains “we were honoured when Gerry asked if Kami could accompany her as a guest to this important event and immediately said yes.  This much needed talk is part of The Stop TB Partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).  The event presents an opportunity for viewers to hear first-hand the experiences of women and young people who have survived tuberculosis, overcome stigma and led their own community efforts to tackle both diseases”.

The event takes place at Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW - Washington DC on Sunday 22 July at 12h00 PM EDT and can be watched on live stream video www.stoptb.org/talkshow or www.ifrc.org/hiv-tb-talkshow.

Gerry Elsdon was diagnosed with tuberculosis early in her television career.  This experience prompted her to become an advocate for the rights of people affected by tuberculosis. Gerry’s humanitarian work began when she was appointed as an AIDS Ambassador by the Office of the President of South Africa. She is currently the IFRC Advocate for tuberculosis. Gerry has hosted many on air programmes, including the African version of the reality show, Big Brother.

Jeanne Meserve covered the beat for CNN from the September 11th attacks through their tenth anniversary. Her portfolio has included intelligence, law enforcement, bioterrorism, cyber, aviation, and border and port security. She has flown with a combat air patrol, reported from atop a crane in the port of Los Angeles. She has also done political and medical reporting, and covered a wide range of breaking news stories.


Tuberculosis is a public health emergency

  • In 2010, 8.8 million people fell ill with tuberculosis and 1.4 million died from it
  • Tuberculosis is a preventable and curable disease caused by bacteria. It spreads from person to person through the air when people cough.
  • People get sick with tuberculosis all over the world, but the vast majority of cases are in Asia and Africa.
  • Many European cities are deeply affected. London, for instance, has one of the highest TB rates in the world. New York had very serious outbreak the late 80s and early 90s, and stopping it cost $1 billion.
  • Cases of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis have been reported officially from 58 countries. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is more difficult and expensive to treat than drug-sensitive TB, with significantly higher mortality rates.

Tuberculosis and HIV form a deadly combination

  • Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV.
  • Almost one in four deaths among people with HIV is due to tuberculosis.
  • In 2010, 350,000 people died of HIV-associated tuberculosis. In South Africa 60% of tuberculosis patients are living with HIV. In Uganda 54% of tuberculosis patients are living with HIV

Tuberculosis and HIV together have a devastating impact on women.

  • Tuberculosis is responsible for one in four AIDS-related deaths among women.
  • Nearly half a million women died of tuberculosis in 2010.
  • Women living with HIV are 10 times more likely to develop tuberculosis during pregnancy than women who are HIV-negative.
  • Tuberculosis during pregnancy doubles the risk of transmission of HIV from a mother to her child.
  • Tuberculosis has been neglected in children, yet it causes suffering and death all over the world, especially in communities affected by HIV.

At least half a million children become ill with tuberculosis each year, yet child-friendly forms of TB medicine are unavailable.

  • Infants and young children are at increased risk of developing the most deadly forms of tuberculosis.
  • Each year as many as 70 000 children die of tuberculosis - a curable disease.
  • Tuberculosis often goes undetected and unreported in children.

Tuberculosis and HIV hit communities hard

  • People with tuberculosis often suffer from discrimination, rejection and isolation.
  • Stigma means that people with tuberculosis are less likely to complete their treatment, putting their families and friends at risk and fuelling the development of drug-resistant forms of the disease.
  • People with tuberculosis are often too sick to work or go to school, and they and their families may have to pay for treatment.
  • Communities are at special risk when women are ill with tuberculosis. Families lose income, and children miss out on educational opportunities.

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