TB Personal Stories – Thu’s Story
Thu was tested for tuberculosis (TB) when she came to the United States as an international student from Vietnam. She was diagnosed with latent TB infection and offered treatment. Latent TB infection is a condition in which a person is infected with the TB bacteria, but does not currently have active TB disease. People with latent TB infection do not have signs and symptoms of TB disease and cannot spread TB bacteria to others. However, if these bacteria become active and multiply, latent TB infection can develop into TB disease. At the time, her English skills were limited, and she didn’t understand the information from her healthcare provider.
“All I know was that I have an option to not take the treatments. As a young person I didn’t experience any symptoms, so I decided to not take any treatment,” Thu recalls.
Thu was tested for TB a second time before getting married, as part of the immigration process. This time, she was diagnosed with TB disease. Looking back, she remembers feeling really tired during the day, and losing some weight.
“When I was diagnosed I was planning to get married in Vietnam in December. I was diagnosed in October, so my wedding was postponed until I finished the treatment,” says Thu.
Thu appreciated the support of the local health department during her TB treatment.
“I had a really good experience with the tuberculosis control center. When I was first diagnosed with active TB I was still going to school and going to work at the same time. I didn’t have a car and a tuberculosis control center always keep up with my schedule and show up at where I work or at school and my convenient time to give me the treatment that– the necessary treatment and I really appreciate that,” says Thu. Thu’s experiences with the local public health department inspired her to enroll in a public health degree program. She hopes her coursework and training in both pharmacy and public health prepares her for career in helping others.
Looking back, she wishes she would have better understood the importance of treating her latent TB infection to prevent the development TB disease.
“I share my story because I want people to realize that the treatment of latent TB is very important. I wish that when I found out that I had latent TB, there was a local health worker who could speak Vietnamese or if I could link to a translation. In some case, to help me translate into Vietnamese, I might have changed my mind to treat the latent TB,” says Thu.
Thu completed her treatment for TB disease and was able to have her wedding in Vietnam.
“TB is completely curable, and treatment can be difficult but after you finish the treatment you can live a normal life,” says Thu.