Winstone Zulu, international TB/HIV advocate, has passed away

14 October 2011 - Geneva - Winstone Zulu, a powerful advocate on behalf of people living with HIV and affected by TB, died on 12 October at University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.

In 2006 Winstone was the first recipient of the Kochon Prize. This award, sponsored by the Kochon Foundation and now conferred annually by the Stop TB Partnership, acknowledges persons, institutions or organizations that have made a highly significant contribution to combating TB.

Born in 1964 in Lusaka, Winstone was 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 became ill with TB and, with access to effective medicines and treatment, was cured of TB.

He was not the first in his family to be affected by TB. He watched four of his brothers die of TB because they lacked access to the anti-TB drugs that would have cured them and extended their lives.

"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 said.

Winstone's family tragedy inspired him to become a preeminent global advocate on the dangers posed by the spread of TB. He travelled the world, a tireless speaker. At numerous international conferences and events, Winstone sounded the alarm on the links between HIV and TB and advocated for increased financial resources and improved programs to combat TB and TB-HIV.

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."

"I personally never met Winstone, but I was always moved when I saw videos about him or read what he had to say. I am deeply saddened by his passing, but I know he will be remembered as a trailblazer for TB/HIV advocacy. As we strive for zero deaths from TB among people living with HIV, we should all remember how he gave of himself to see that dream realized," said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.

Winstone is survived by his wife, Vivian, and their four children. There were be a candle-lit vigil at the Hope house (office of Kara Counselling) in Lusaka tonight, beginning at 18:00. The funeral will be held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka from 12pm tomorrow, Saturday, 15 October.

View the Action Project photo tribute to Winstone