Cape Town-121113-The Helderstroom Prison in Caledon launched their first diagnostic machine to diagnose TB in prisons. In pic: Peter Esterhuizen, who belongs to the pirison's minstrils team, pins a red ribbon on Booi De Klerk-Reporter-Nontando-Photographer-Tracey Adams

Cape Town - A Caledon prison has unveiled a new testing apparatus aimed at curbing the spread of tuberculosis among inmates.

The GeneXpert MTB/RIF “lab in a box” was launched at the Helderstroom Medium Prison on Tuesday.

It can detect TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) accurately two hours after testing sputum.

The prison is the first Western Cape correctional institution to own such machine. It costs R150 000 and was funded by the Hermanus SA National Tuberculosis Association (Santa).

Prison health manager Suzette van Aarde said since the prison started using it in July it had tested 53 inmates, of whom six tested positive for TB.

“It has helped us a lot as we receive the results within hours and can start treatment immediately,” she said.

Before the machine arrived, a TB diagnosis took about six weeks. New inmates at the prison will now be screened on entry. - Cape Argus