How a Disease We Can Cure Became the Leading Infectious Killer
While tuberculosis (TB) is a centuries-old disease that health professionals have long known how to cure, this devastating disease now outranks HIV/AIDS as the leading infectious killer. RESULTS calls for increased U.S. investment and political will to fight the global TB epidemic.
The following is an excerpt from a New York Times op-ed by RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund Executive Director, Joanne Carter:
“New data from the World Health Organization shows that we have allowed a preventable, curable disease to become the world’s biggest communicable killer. The millenniums-old lung disease tuberculosis now outranks even H.I.V./AIDS in the number of lives it claims. The fact is that we’ve been very successful at curing people of TB since the 1950s — so why is this illness still such a scourge?
TB is an airborne infectious disease. If untreated, one person with TB can infect 10 to 15 others in the space of a year. The existing vaccine is largely ineffective, and there is no simple test where most people first get care. Drug-resistant strains of the disease continue to spread, far outpacing the development of new drugs. And the treatment for drug-resistant TB can be grueling, with sometimes devastating side effects.
These challenges are real, but the biggest problem we face with tuberculosis is not scientific. It’s political.
TB has climbed up the list of major killers worldwide, but it’s stuck at the bottom of the list of political priorities.”
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