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“I had TB symptoms for the first time four years ago when I started coughing incessantly, lost my appetite and was exhausted all the time. I went to see a government doctor in his private clinic, who initially gave me regular medication. But when there was no improvement in my condition, I was sent for an X-Ray. The doctor referred me to a primary healthcare center after I was diagnosed with TB. I wasn’t scared at all because my doctor assured me that I could be cured. I took medicines regularly for six months and was cured but after three months of getting cured, I had a relapse. At this time I also had a test for HIV and was declared positive.

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I had TB and HIV at the same time and I was alarmed when I lost 50 kgs of weight and weighed only 25 kgs. I went to Thiruvallur to take TB medicines every day but I was vomiting continuously and not getting better. I had to change hospitals and this hospital is far from my house. I used to go there every day for four months. After a culture test, I was referred to TB hospital in Tambaram Sanatorium, which is 80 kilometers from my home. I got admitted in the hospital for two months. After conducting several tests, they found out that I had MDR-TB, post which I started treatment in Thiruvallur and used to go there daily for one year. I got 144 injections during that time and after that I took tablets for another year.

During my treatment, I came in touch with an NGO situated in in Thiruvallur district. Without them, I would not have had the courage or will to complete my treatment. I had quit working during the time period and my wife was managing the household expenses but that wasn’t enough. The NGO provided us with nutritional support every month, new bedsheets and towels. They also helped us get pension from a government scheme and supported my daughter with school fees and supplies. They provided me with moral and psychological support. I would call them whenever I needed counselling. Moreover, my wife was my biggest strength.

I have been cured of TB and am relieved and happy. I work as before but only for half a day. I drive an auto, and work in the fields. I am taking my HIV treatment and hope to lead a normal life.” – T. Thirupal

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Mr Thirupal is a farmer and a truck driver. This story is part of our series called ‘Voices of TB Heroes’ that features TB survivors and community volunteers who’ve impacted the lives of those affected by TB.

 According to the Global TB Report for 2016 that was released last month, India continues to bear the world’s highest burden of TB, with 2.8 million people affected by the disease last year. Despite being curable, TB kills over 1000 people every day in India.

 At the heart of India’s battle against TB are those directly affected by the disease. It is their stories that we need to hear, their struggles and battles we need to support and their victories we must celebrate. Please read and share these stories widely.

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