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10 Facts About TB You Might Not Know

Updated: May 26, 2023

Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health concern affecting millions of people globally. Despite being preventable and treatable, TB continues to take a toll on the world's population. Here are 10 facts about TB you might not know, some from the UNAIDS fact sheet:

  1. TB is the world's deadliest infectious disease: on a daily basis, more than 4100 people die and nearly 30,000 people fall ill with the disease.

  2. One-third of the world's population is infected with TB, according to the World Economic Forum.

  3. Even though the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, resembles many other bacteria, it has unique features that make it difficult to diagnose and treat: its cell wall is extremely thick and complex. Mycolic acid sits on the cell wall and protects the bacillus from the body’s immune response.

  4. The probability of developing TB disease is about 18 times higher for people living with HIV. All people living with HIV should get TB preventive treatment - the global HIV burden at the end of 2021 was 38.4 million.

  5. Of the people living with HIV who die from TB, 50% are men, 40% are women, and 9.8% are children.

  6. The goal by 2025 is to reduce TB-related deaths among people living with HIV by 80%. To achieve this goal, it’s vitally important that all stakeholders, from healthcare workers to data scientists, pool their abilities, knowledge and resources. Founded in 1920 and the world’s first global health organization, The Union helps unite a community of professionals in their fight against TB.

  7. Nearly 12 million TB-related HIV deaths were averted between 2000 and 2020 because of targeted TB/HIV-related interventions.

  8. Despite being a major public health concern, global spending on TB diagnostics, treatments, and prevention in 2020 was less than half of the 2022 global target of US$13 billion annually.

  9. For research and development, an extra US$ 1.1 billion per year is needed. The Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute is involved in developing new vaccines and therapeutics to help reduce personal suffering from TB and accelerate the decline of this disease. The Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp is also conducting a variety of TB-related trials, including the accuracy of computer-aided detection of TB on chest radiographs and the efficacy of new treatment regimes against drug-resistant TB.

  10. TB can affect almost any part of the body, not just the lungs.

To eliminate this deadly disease is an ongoing challenge. The Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute and the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp are just a few examples of organizations working towards finding new solutions, improving adherence to TB treatment and reducing the burden of TB. With sustained focus and commitment, it is possible to bring an end to this devastating disease. And we are happy to be part of this mission!


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