No one is immune to TB

2008-03-31 00:00

Last Monday was World TB Day 2008, which carried the message that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing thousands of deaths annually. In South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal is one of the worst-afflicted provinces and the number of cases registered here increased by 80% in the period 2001 to 2004, an increase directly related to the incidence of HIV. Just as we have the highest caseload so, too, do we have the highest number of treatment defaulters — patients who relapse because they fail to complete treatment.

Clearly, it is necessary, too, to beef up public education programmes. While the very poor, and especially those who are HIV-positive, are most susceptible to TB infection, no one is immune and anyone can be infected at any time. “It can’t happen to me,” is seldom, if ever, true.

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