Find TB. Treat TB. Working together to eliminate TB.
In the United States, the number of tuberculosis (TB) cases reported every year has been declining since 1993. However, TB is still a life-threatening problem in this country. Because TB bacteria are transmitted through the air from one person to another, anyone can get TB. This disease knows no borders; every day, people here in the United States are suffering from TB.
Even with advancements in medicine, treatment for TB disease takes 6 to 9 months—longer if the TB is drug-resistant— and often comes with unpleasant side effects from the multiple medications required for effective treatment. In the fight against TB, collaboration among patients, doctors, and public health is central to our success.
CDC highlights the experiences of former TB patients in a new project called TB Personal Stories featured on their web page. These stories help emphasize that TB is still a problem in the United States, that it can happen to anyone, and that public health TB control programs provide the essential services needed to prevent, detect, and treat this frightening disease.
Below are snapshots from several of the stories featured in this project.
Natalie contracted multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) while volunteering as a physical therapist in South Africa. She was misdiagnosed for a year, then treated for 2 years before finally being cured of the disease. "Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Metro Public Health Department treated my MDR TB. I recognize how blessed I was to be receiving treatment in a country where the anti-TB drugs and expert medical care I needed were available."
"As a physical therapist, I was trained to help others. But having TB taught me how to accept help from others—and in the process, I found my own voice, and can now share this story," says Natalie. Read more about Natalie's story.
Liliana was diagnosed with MDR TB shortly after her wedding. She was hospitalized for 2 months, then took 14 pills a day for the next year and a half. Because 14 pills were hard to take at one time, the health department arranged to break the regimen into two doses, requiring two daily visits. "A volunteer would be at my house at 6 in the morning. Then after work I would come home, and a nurse would be waiting for me as I took my other pills," she explains.
"My advice to someone who is recently diagnosed with TB is to have patience. There is hope and there is a cure, but you must be patient during your treatment," says Liliana.
Read more about Liliana's experience.
Tri found out he had TB shortly after beginning college. After 9 months of treatment for TB disease, Tri was cured and is back doing what he loves—playing basketball. He now serves as a peer counselor for others undergoing treatment for TB disease. Tri credits his case manager with motivating him during his treatment. "She came to our house every day to deliver directly observed therapy, answer our questions, and encourage us," he recalls.
In his role as a peer counselor, Tri offers advice to others who are diagnosed with TB. "Don't panic. Follow your doctor's advice about treatment and take your medicine every day. TB is a big word and a big disease, but it's curable and you can get through it. There is help out there." Learn more about Tri's TB story.
Sarah, a high school student, found an odd lump on her neck in October 2011, but she never imagined it could be TB. Managing doctor appointments and daily medication was challenging for her as she also juggled advanced placement courses and extracurricular activities.
"It was a struggle," Sarah said. "However, after a few months, my attitude changed. I no longer saw my illness as a hindrance, but as a personal challenge. Everyone faces obstacles; this happens to be mine. I just saw it as something I had to cope with. I knew I could overcome TB. And I have a team of amazing doctors; they're all working hard to make sure I get better." Read more about Sarah's story.
World TB Day
Each year, World TB Day is observed on March 24. TB is one of the world's deadliest diseases. It's estimated that 2 billion people — one third of the people in the world — are infected with the bacteria that cause TB. Each year, nearly 9 million people in the world become sick with TB disease; in 2012 a total of 1.3 million deaths were attributed to TB. These numbers represent real people, which is one of the reasons the TB Personal Stories project was created to help show that TB can happen to anyone.
World TB Day gives CDC and others a chance to educate the public that TB remains a problem in much of the world, including the United States. This day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about TB-related problems and solutions, and to support worldwide TB-control efforts. This year CDC selected the theme "Find TB. Treat TB. Working together to eliminate TB," to highlight that TB is still a life-threatening problem in the United States, despite the declining number of TB cases. Anyone can get TB, and our current efforts to find and treat latent TB infection and TB disease are not sufficient. Misdiagnosis of TB still exists and health care professionals often do not "think TB."
What CDC Is Doing
Researchers in CDC's Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, with their partners in the TB Trials Consortium and the TB Epidemiologic Studies Consortium, are at the forefront of research that is striving to make the world free of TB. We can only reach the goal of a world free of TB by working together to detect, treat, and prevent TB to ensure that people, just like the former TB patients featured in the TB personal stories project, do not have to suffer from this disease.
Read more TB personal stories at http://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/basics/personalstories.htm.
- CDC World TB Day
- CDC World TB Day Resources
- CDC World TB Day Podcast (English and Spanish)
- History of World TB Day
- Forging Partnerships to Eliminate Tuberculosis (guide and toolkit)
- Global Stop TB Partnership – World TB Day
Additional Information About TB
- CDC Questions and Answers about TB (English and Spanish)
- Tuberculosis: General Information (English and Spanish)
- List of State TB Control Offices
- Surveillance Data
- CDC Grand Rounds: Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Video
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