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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 05:09 GMT 06:09 UK
Mandela urges action to fight TB
By Chris Hogg
BBC, Bangkok

Nelson Mandela
Mandela said fighting TB should be a top priority
Nelson Mandela has made an appeal at the international Aids conference for a greater effort to fight tuberculosis.

He said the battle against Aids would not be won unless the international community did more to fight TB as well. The former South African president, who has already announced his retirement from public life, is in Bangkok for a rare set of public appearances.

A $45m grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been announced to fund research into Aids and TB.

Mr Mandela contracted tuberculosis while he was locked up in Robben Island jail.

It was caught early and he was cured.

Deadly combination

One third of the world's population live with the TB germ in their lungs.

But those who contract HIV as well can lose their ability to fight the TB as their immune system deteriorates.

We can't fight Aids unless we do much more to fight TB as well
Nelson Mandela

The combination of Aids and TB is deadly - it is the biggest killer of people infected with HIV.

Mr Mandela described TB as a death sentence for people with Aids.

"It does not have to be this way," he added.

"The world has made defeating Aids a top priority. This is a blessing, but TB remains ignored," he said.

He called on the world to recognise that it could not fight Aids unless it did more to fight TB as well.

The BBC's Karen Allen
"[Mandela] spoke of his personal experience: whilst in prison he was diagnosed with TB"

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