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How do you get Tuberculosis (TB)?

Nov 3, 1999

Dear Mr. Sowadsky,

I know Tuberculosis not is considered a sexual disease. However is a person considered at (high?) risk for TB from kissing a person with active TB infection?

Sincerely Yours

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that is transmitted through airborne contact. It is transmitted when there is an active infection in the lungs, and the infected person coughs or sneezes. Infection most often occurs after close and prolonged contact with the infected person.

TB is not transmitted via kissing, nor through other forms of sexual contact. In addition, when the infection is not in the active stage, or if TB occurs outside the lungs, the infected person is not infectious to others.

Although anybody can get TB (regardless of whether they have HIV or not), TB can sometimes be more serious in persons with HIV infection, and especially if they have AIDS or other diseases of the immune system. TB can be diagnosed through a skin test, and also by chest x-rays. This infection is treatable with antibiotics.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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