Winstone Zulu, the first Zambian to go public on his HIV positive status, has died
Celebrated HIV/AIDS activist, Winstone zulu has died. Family friend and fellow HIV/AIDS activist, Gezepi Chakulunta has confirmed the death of Mr Zulu to Muvi TV news.
Mr Zulu, who is arguably the first person to have come in public to reveal his positive HIV status, died in the early hours of today at the UTH.
Winstone Zulu was born in 1964 in Lusaka, Zambia, the sixth of thirteen children. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1990, he became the first individual in Zambia to publicly acknowledge his HIV status. In 1997, he contracted TB and, with access to effective medicines and treatment, was cured of the disease within that same year.
During his life, tragically, he has watched four of his brothers die from TB as a result of a lack of access to the anti-TB drugs that would have cured them and extended their lives.
These experiences made Winstone one of the preeminent global advocates on the dangers posed by the increasing spread of TB. As one of the few African activists involved in the global health movement on AIDS from its earliest stages, he was able to recognize the threat that TB poses on the modest successes of HIV/AIDS control.
Nelson Mandela said of Winstone, “There have been so few TB survivors who have stepped forward to share their stories. We need more advocates like Winstone to tell the world about TB and the effect it has on so many millions of people.”
“TB treatment gives patients more time. If my brothers had survived TB they might have lived long enough to access HIV drugs like me. They shouldn’t have died.” Winstone Zulu said at the time.
Speaking at numerous international conferences and events, Winstone sounded the alarm on the links between HIV/AIDS and TB and advocates for increased financial resources and improved programs to combat TB and TB-HIV.
Winstone’s experiences and actions make him a leader in TB advocacy and spoke volumes to the social attention and political will that could be generated by just one individual using his voice.
Mr Zulu is also noted as one of the pioneers of the establishment of Kara counseling.
Meanwhile, Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign Country Coordinator, Felix Mwanza has described Mr Zulu’s death as a great loss.