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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 3, 2011

TB EDUCATION AND TRAINING NETWORK UPDATE

Medecins Sans Frontiers Launches Blogging Project for MDR TB Patients

Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF), also known as Doctors without Borders, recently launched a blogging project for patients with MDR TB. TB&ME (http://msf.ca/blogs/tb/) is a collaborative project by and for patients being treated for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) in locations all around the world. TB&ME was launched to give MDR TB patients a forum for sharing with the world, in their own words, what it’s like to have this disease and how treatment and services could be improved.

As possibly the first blog of its kind, TB&ME could provide an excellent opportunity for TB care providers and educators to learn from patients about the real-life experience of MDR TB and MDR TB treatment. Patients who choose to participate in the TB&ME project do so on a voluntary basis, having been identified by MSF field staff as people who might be interested in sharing their stories. Patients may choose to leave the project at any time without affecting their care.

Members write about their experiences of living with MDR TB and the treatments that they receive. Stories from patients who do not have access to computers or the internet are transcribed and, if necessary, translated and posted by MSF. When such patients wish to respond to questions or comments to their blog posts, these are also transcribed and posted (unedited other than spelling and grammar) by MSF.

So far the site has bloggers from Uganda, Swaziland, the Philippines, and Australia, with a range of ages and backgrounds. Visitors to the site can interact with the bloggers by posting questions or comments. One of the project’s bloggers is Christiaan Van Vuuren, a young man from Australia who was diagnosed with MDR TB in 2010. During the nearly 7 months he spent in isolation, Christiaan (aka the Fully Sick Rapper) made a name for himself and created quite a stir after writing, directing, and posting two rap videos on YouTube describing his situation. Christiaan recently completed 18 months of treatment for MDR TB, and his recent posts describe the relief and sense of accomplishment he feels about that.

To read their blogs, and those of other MDR TB patients, visit TB&ME. Individuals wishing to reach MSF about TB&ME can do so by contacting (pete.masters@london.msf.org) or via twitter (http://twitter.com/msf_field).

—Submitted by Linette McElroy
TB ETN Membership Development Work Group

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