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TB and A.I.D.S. cases
Apr 2, 1997

Since there has been such a culmulative drop in TB tuberculosis cases over the last 4 years, is it possible that the decline in new A.I.D.S. acquired immune deficiency syndrome cases may be attributed to the decline in TB cases in some way?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

If a person has HIV and Tuberculosis (TB), they are classified as having full-blown AIDS. However, it's important to remember that many people who have TB do not have HIV, and therefore do not have AIDS. We can say however that there is a link between these two diseases. This is because persons with HIV/AIDS (and other diseases of the immune system) are much more likely to acquire TB than people who have normally functioning immune systems.

Treatments for TB have been improving, especially with the use of Direct-Observed Therapy, which ensures that people are taking their medications exactly as prescribed. If TB medications are not taken exactly as prescribed, the bacteria that causes TB can quickly become resistant to the drugs. There are now strains of TB that are resistant to multiple anti-TB medications. This is called Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). However, with Direct-Observed Therapy, we hope that the rate of MDR-TB, and Tuberculosis overall, will decrease over time.

The number of new cases of AIDS per year (incidence) in the USA has been remaining relatively stable for several years. However, as people are now living longer with HIV/AIDS (due to better treatments and earlier detection), plus the number of new cases per year, we can expect the total number of people living with AIDS at any one time, to increase in the future (prevalence). This means there will be more people living with damaged immune systems. How this will affect the rate of future TB cases is still not known. But with a dedicated effort at TB surveillance and Direct-Observed Therapy for TB, hopefully the increase in prevalence of AIDS will not have that great an impact on TB incidence and prevalence.

Because there are many people who have TB but don't have HIV/AIDS, and visa versa, we cannot make a direct link between the incidence and prevalence of these two diseases. However, since there are people who have both TB and AIDS, a change in rate in TB, may have some impact in the rate of new AIDS cases, and visa versa.

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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