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The prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) has been steadily decreasing since the year 2000, but despite the colossal effort put into policy changes and government programs, TB has now surpassed HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death from infectious diseases. One in three people worldwide are infected with TB, but far fewer actually get sick. The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a plan to lower deaths from TB by 90%, which they set as a goal for 2030.

A global epidemic

In 2014, an estimated 1.5 million people died from TB and 1.2 million from HIV/AIDS, which includes 400,000 people who had HIV/AIDS and TB. TB is often opportunistic, preying on people with a weak immune system. Over 95% of infections occur in developing countries where healthcare is limited and government budgets stretched thin.

Promoting public awareness of TB is extremely important so that people can recognize symptoms and seek help as soon as possible. An obvious problem with fighting TB is the funding that goes into TB programs. Compared to global investments for HIV/AIDS, which was $21.7 billion in 2014, a paltry $6.6 billion was spent on TB prevention.

A serious problem that plagues developing countries is that physicians are reluctant to report all cases to local disease control centers and as a result statistics provided by government agencies are unreliable. The gap in the figures is quite disturbing. It is estimated that of the 9.6 million who got TB last year, a mere 62.5% of them (6 million people) were reported to government agencies, which means that 38% of the new cases weren’t diagnosed or recorded officially. If some countries are hiding the facts, organizations like the WHO are seriously underestimating the extent of disease prevalence.

The countries which had the highest incidence rates of TB in 2014 were Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China and South Africa.

Addressing the problem of drug resistance

Studies have shown that in every country surveyed, TB strains that are resistant to standard treatment are present. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB that does not respond to first-line treatment, isoniazid and rifampicin. The main causes of MDR-TB are inadequate treatment, incorrect or inappropriate use of anti-TB drugs, or the use of low-quality medications. MDR-TB can be effectively treated with second-line drugs, but these may be limited in availability and are much more costly.

Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is a dangerous form of TB that fails to respond to even second-line treatment and requires serious drugs that often cause side-effects. Cure rates for MDR-TB are about 50%, and XDR-TB cure rates are even lower.

Effective decision-making

Examining the causes and adopting new strategies can help avoid the spread of drug resistant forms of TB. The United States recently released a National Action Plan to combat MDR-TB on a national and global level. Developing countries shouldn’t be hiding the true numbers, because underestimating TB prevalence can be detrimental, especially if it’s a drug resistant strain. TB is a curable disease and there is no reason why anyone should suffer.

FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Releases National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis. (2015, December 22). Retrieved December 28, 2015, from

Tuberculosis (Fact sheet N°104). (2015, October 13). Retrieved December 25, 2015, from


By Dr. Yuriy Sarkisov, BiMedis staff writer

  • Cedric Colquitt Keith Jr. 04 April 2016, 23:21:20
    Google translation
    Mein Sohn hatte einmal das Problem der HIV / AID\, die seit Jahren seine Ausbildung betroffen\, gab ich ihm verschiedene Medikamente\, aber es gab keine Lösung\, ich das Netz zu suchen und ich fand den Kontakt von einem Arzt\, der mich mit seinem Produkt helfen HIV beim Härten / AIDS\, Krebs

    My son once had the Problem of the HIV / AID, the years of his training affected, I gave him various medicines, but there was no solution, I search the net and I found the contact of a doctor, the me with his product HIV help cure / AIDS cancer

  • Татьяна Корабельникова 28 February 2016, 18:46:57
    Google translation
    Согласна, что проблема заболеваемости Туберкулезом в России недооценивается. Например, в моем городе вообще закрыли туберкулезный диспансер._А ведь больных много. Увы, это чаще люди , которые ведут ассоциальный образ жизни. Они заражают других.Ведь путь - воздушно-капельный. При ослабленном иммунитете "подцепить" эту опасную легочную инфекцию очень легко.

    I agree that the problem of Tuberculosis in Russia is underestimated. For example, in my city closed a tuberculosis dispensary.A because many patients. Alas, it is often the people who lead antisocial lifestyle. They infect others.Because the path - airborne. In a weakened immune system "catching" this dangerous lung infection very easily.

  • Анастасия Курило 28 February 2016, 06:16:19
    Google translation
    Слышала о том, что от туберкулеза невозможно излечиться. Так ли это? И в каком случае больной человек представляет угрозу для окружающих?

    Heard of that TB can't be cured. Is this true? And in any case, a sick person poses a threat to others?

    • Yuriy Sarkisov 29 March 2016, 17:11:42
      Google translation
      Уважаемая Анастасия, спасибо за комментарий!__Туберкулез можно полностью вылечить. Это длительный и тяжелый процесс, но если вовремя обратиться и полноценно пройти курс лечения, прогноз будет благополучным._Если у человека активная форма туберкулеза (также называется открытая_форма), он представляет угрозу для окружающих, так как возбудитель_выделяется во внешнюю среду. Симптомы открытой формы ТБ: кашель,_кровохарканье, повышение температуры тела (до 38 С), потение по ночам,_потеря массы тела и др.

      Dear Anastasia, thanks for the comment!__Tuberculosis can be completely cured. It is a long and difficult process, but if the time to appeal the full treatment, the Outlook is prosperous.Esli in human active tuberculosis (also called otkrytaia), he is a danger to others, as vozbuditelya to the external environment. Symptoms open forms of TB are: cough,krovoharkanye, fever (up to 38 C), sweating at night,Patera body mass etc.

  • 27 February 2016, 22:43:13
    Google translation
    Еще когда я в институте училась, лет десять назад, уже тогда говорили про эпидемию. Почему не принимают никаких мер?! Надеются, что так пройдет? Конечно, многое здесь зависит не только от медицины, еще от ответственности самих людей. Жаль, что тенденция невеселая сохраняется...

    Even when I was studying at the Institute, ten years ago, were already talking about the epidemic. Why don't they do?! I hope that it will take? Of course, a lot here depends not only on medicine, from the responsibility of the people themselves. Sorry that the trend remains gloomy...

    • Yuriy Sarkisov 29 March 2016, 17:10:46
      Google translation
      Спасибо за комментарий!__Смертность и распространенность ТБ стремительно падают с 1990 года_(1990-2015 год смертность упала на 47%). Самое неприятное это то, что ТБ можно излечить, а ВИЛ/СПИД на сегодняшний день- нет._Я считаю, что если вложить нужные усилия и средства, можно довести цифры смертности к нулю.

      Thanks for the comment!__Mortality and prevalence of TB are falling rapidly since the 1990 TV(1990-2015 year mortality fell 47%). The most unpleasant is the fact that TB can be cured, and HIV/AIDS today - no.A believe that if you invest the necessary effort and tools, can bring the mortality figures to zero.