TB Personal Stories – Kelcie’s Story
Kelcie was diagnosed with latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI) during a health exam after a year living outside of the U.S. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick and can’t spread TB to others, but without treatment, can develop TB disease. Like many people, Kelcie wasn’t familiar with latent TB infection and wasn’t sure what she should do about it.
“At the time, I didn’t really understand the difference between latent and active tuberculosis and I didn’t understand what steps I would have to take considering I wasn’t actually sick. So, I think at the time my biggest concern was getting more information of what the next steps are, how likely is it that I’m going to get sick, am I going to get sick immediately,” says Kelcie.
Kelcie’s doctor was very knowledgeable, and spent time answering all of her questions. “She explained to me that the difference between latent and active TB was that essentially I had this bacteria in my body but was not sick, was not contagious, I was not putting anyone else at risk. However, that meant that I could in the future develop active TB, and be sick, and be putting other people at risk,” Kelcie explains.
Individuals with latent TB infection can take treatment to prevent developing active TB disease in the future. Her doctor presented her with a couple of different treatment options for her latent TB infection. “One was a more traditional nine-month treatment option. But the other was a newer option that was only three months. And while my doctor presented the pros and cons of both, she definitely recommended the three-month option,” recalls Kelcie.
While all the regimens for latent TB infection are effective, healthcare providers should prescribe the more convenient shorter regimens, when possible. Patients are more likely to complete shorter treatment regimens.
Once she began treatment, her local health department helped facilitate her treatment and answered the questions she had along the way. They came to her house once a week to deliver the pills, which Kelcie found very convenient.
As someone who decided to take treatment for latent TB infection to prevent TB disease, Kelcie encourages others to do the same.
“Now when I’m sick, I’m not worried that I have TB. And I know that it was handled and taken care of, and I have a lot more peace of mind. I would love people to have more awareness about TB and how easily latent TB can be treated, so that maybe people will get tested more and we’d have less issues with people having active TB disease and being sick and contagious,” says Kelcie.