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To Meet TB Treatment Goals, Latent TB Cases Must Be Diagnosed

“If everyone in the world were tested for latent infection with tuberculosis (a status that predisposes people to develop active disease) today, at least one billion people would be positive,” Ray Chambers, U.N. special envoy for health financing, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “From the World Health Organization’s 2012 Global Tuberculosis Report I learned more: Of those with latent TB, 100 million or 10 percent are likely to get full blown or active TB during a lifetime, with the majority getting it in the first year after having been exposed,” he continues, adding, “You can picture the exponential spread of the disease and recognize how frighteningly quickly those numbers add up: 1.4 million people will die from the disease this year — two to three people every second, nearly 4,000 every day.”

“As I mentioned in last week’s post, we have just over 1,000 days to the December 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” Chambers writes, adding, “By then, we must ensure that the six million patients currently treated for TB each year increases to the nine million who actually need it — achieving what is known as ‘universal coverage.'” He notes, “While the three million yet to be detected each year are also the hardest to find, relatively new initiatives, such as one called ‘TB REACH’ are proving that with modest investments but focused attention and efforts, many of these patients can be found.” He concludes, “If you have a cough or fever, get tested. Get diagnosed. And let’s meet the goal of treating all nine million people who need it, through support of entities like the Global Fund” to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (4/2).