World Tuberculosis (TB) Day

Daughter and father reading TB brochure in clinic lobby

World TB Day is observed every year on March 24. Learn how CDC is working for a TB free world.

World TB Day commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB. This year’s World TB Day theme “It’s Time” highlights the importance of a renewed commitment to TB elimination and the timely need to expand testing and treatment of latent TB infection.

Despite being preventable and curable, TB is now the world’s leading infectious disease killer. TB affects millions around the world and here in the United States; in every state; in rural areas and cities; in schools, workplaces, homes; and in many other places where people are in close contact. Drug-resistance continues to threaten our ability to treat and control TB disease. Better diagnostics, shorter treatment regimens, and strong partnerships both domestic and global, are needed to accelerate the path to elimination. Learn what CDC is doing in the United States and around the world to eliminate this devastating disease.

World TB Day is March 24 - It's time to test and treat latent TB infection, speak up, end stigma, and strengthen TB education and awareness among health care providers.

CDC is working to expand latent TB infection testing and treatment in the United States

The United States has made great progress towards the goal of TB elimination. In 2018, a provisional total of 9,029 cases of TB disease were reported in the United States – the lowest number on record. The decline in TB case counts in the United States are a credit to the work of local TB control programs in finding and treating people with TB disease to stop the cycle of transmission. However, too many people still suffer from TB in the United States, requiring continued efforts to control TB disease, and expand testing and treatment of latent TB infection to prevent the development of TB disease.

Up to 13 million people in the United States have latent TB infection. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have symptoms, and cannot spread TB bacteria to others. Without treatment, however, they are at risk for developing TB disease at some point in their lives. CDC recommends that people at risk for latent TB infection should be tested and treated to prevent the development of TB disease.

Clinicians, health care agencies, and community organizations, especially those serving at-risk populations, have a critical role in TB elimination. Many of those at high risk for latent TB infection do not traditionally receive care in health departments — but are seen by private community providers and community health centers. Engaging these partners is critical to future success.

CDC'S innovative efforts to find, cure and prevent TB are creating a safer America and a safer world

CDC is working to transform the fight to End TB around the globe

The global community has made tremendous progress, investing in TB tools and interventions around the world that have saved more than 50 million lives from 2000 to 2016. Despite this progress, in 2017 alone, TB claimed 1.6 million lives out of the 10 million people who became ill with this preventable and curable disease.  In addition, 1.7 billion people Cdc-pdf[974 KB]External – more than one fourth of the world’s population – were estimated to be infected with TB in 2017.

Today, we stand at a critical juncture in the fight to end TB worldwide. In September 2018, heads of state and health leaders from across the globe gathered in New York City for the first-ever United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TBExternal, which brought unprecedented visibility to the long-standing fight against TB. U.N. Member States unanimously committed to ensure that 40 million people receive TB diagnosis and treatment, including children and persons with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB); to reach 30 million people with TB Preventive Treatment (TPT) Cdc-pdf[341 KB], defined in the global setting as treatment for those who might be infected with TB and at risk for progressing to TB disease, by 2022, including at least six million people living with HIV (PLHIV), four million children under five years of age, and 20 million household contacts of TB patients; and to sustainable financing and a multi-sectoral accountability framework. In conjunction with the UNHLM, the global community has declared its intention to transform its approach to ending TB. Intensified commitment to the implementation of effective and comprehensive strategies, including scale-up of TPT, is needed to reach global TB targets.

At CDC, we are helping to end the global TB epidemic Cdc-pdf[1.1 MB] by bringing to bear a unique combination of scientific leadership, strong peer-to-peer relationships with ministries of health, technical know-how and a solid track record in building sustainable TB and HIV programs Cdc-pdf[386 KB], and expertise in the strategic use of data to increase impact. Cdc-pdf[113 KB] We are on the frontlines in high-burden countries helping to find, cure, and prevent TB and MDR-TB, Cdc-pdf[614 KB] including among children, Cdc-pdf[163 KB] PLHIV, and other vulnerable populations. CDC is partnering to strengthen health care, surveillance and laboratory systems Cdc-pdf[130 KB] to accelerate and sustain these efforts. We are also providing leadership and technical support to a new TPT initiative launched by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which is committed to providing a course of TPT to all 14 million PLHIV receiving ART through PEPFAR in the next three years.

With the momentum built by the UNHLM on TB, the theme for this year’s World TB Day “It’s TIME” underscores the urgency to accelerate the fight against TB.

Until TB is eliminated, World TB Day will not be a celebration. However, it is a valuable opportunity to educate the public about the devastation of TB disease and how we can work together to prevent it.

It’s Time to end TB in the United States and around the world.

Page last reviewed: March 21, 2019
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