Winstone Zulu, a preeminent global advocate on TB and HIV and a dear friend and colleague of RESULTS and ACTION, passed away on October 12, 2011. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1990, he became the first individual in Zambia to publicly acknowledge his HIV status. In 1997, he contracted and was later cured of TB.
As the first publicly HIV-positive person in Zambia, he faced intolerance and violence, yet spoke out powerfully as an advocate. Years later, after surviving TB, Winstone again put his advocacy first in order to mobilize resources and worldwide attention to the burden of TB, HIV, and the deadly link between the two.
Born in Lusaka, Zambia, Winstone was the sixth of thirteen children. He watched four of his brothers die from TB due to lack of access to life-saving anti-TB drugs, and was moved to turn his personal loss into ceaseless advocacy for worldwide awareness for the fight against TB and TB-HIV co-infection. In his decades of advocacy, Winstone traveled the world to meet with heads of states and grassroots activists and speak at numerous international conferences. He championed increased financial resources and improved programs and accessibility to combat TB and TB-HIV.
In Zambia, Winstone was instrumental in reforming the Global Fund’s country coordinating mechanism to ensure TB representation and gender equality. And recently, Winstone had begun to explore, in powerful ways, issues of disability rights, and to use his own experience of having polio as a child to campaign for universal access to vaccines.
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.”
He is survived by his wife, Vivian, and their four children. He leaves behind a legacy of courageous advocacy that will continue to positively impact the fight against TB and HIV and will help save the lives of countless others in Zambia and around the world.