TB patient in Indonesia Anadolu Agency

Why Tuberculosis Persists

In 2015, more than ten million new cases of tuberculosis were reported, and almost two million people died from it. TB has survived as a global scourge because political leaders ignore its sociological components; scientists lack an effective paradigm for comprehending it; and the rich and famous no longer die from it.

SAN FRANCISCO – It surprises many people in Europe and North America that tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the great scourges in human history. One out of every three people in the world is infected with latent or sub-clinical TB, and scientists predict that 10% of them will manifest the disease as age and other illnesses compromise their immune systems. In 2015, more than ten million new cases of TB were reported, and almost two million people died from it.

There are three reasons why TB persists: political leaders do not understand the sociology behind it, scientists lack an effective paradigm to attack it, and the rich and famous no longer die from it.

TB once affected every stratum of society, but it now afflicts the most vulnerable populations. This makes it an ideal meme for artists and activists who focus on social justice. The incidence of drug-resistant TB is on the rise, because the health-care systems of poor countries lack the resources to screen for TB and to help patients comply with their therapies.

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