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National News

New Jersey: Model TB Center Cuts Infection Rate, Improves Treatment

January 16, 2003

When US tuberculosis cases began rising sharply in the early 1990s after TB control programs were cut back, Dr. Lee B. Reichman, chair of pulmonary medicine at New Jersey Medical School, felt he had to take action. He convinced officials at the school's "parent," the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the state Health Department to provide funding and support to start a tuberculosis center. In Newark alone, the number of TB cases increased from 119 in 1986 to 196 in 1991. A growing number of TB patients also had AIDS or a TB strain that had grown resistant to multiple drugs, making treatment longer, more difficult and more expensive.

Still one of only three such centers in the country, the New Jersey Medical School National Tuberculosis Center marked its 10th anniversary Monday, less than a year after moving into larger, state-of-the-art quarters in the new International Center for Public Health building.

In the early 1990s, less than 60 percent of US tuberculosis patients took all their medicines daily until cured. At NJMS-NTC, using directly observed therapy, the compliance rate is now 98 percent, believed the best in the world. DOT has slashed the number of new cases in Newark, which had one of the state's highest TB rates because of its many poor residents. In 2001, only 62 Newark residents, or 23.2 per 100,000 residents, had active TB, down from 71.8 per 100,000 in 1991. The center now treats just over 100 patients, including many difficult case referrals.

NJMC-NTC trained about 3,000 foreign doctors and health workers when it first opened, and it still trains about 1,000 annually. These include many from poor countries with high TB rates, such as Russia and the former Soviet republics, Peru, and the Philippines.

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Reichman has attracted considerable CDC funding for patient treatment and research on the best TB drug combinations, including one of the first grants the agency distributed in 1993 when it resumed aggressive TB control efforts. Most of NJMC-NTC's $4 million to $5 million annual budget now comes from CDC grants.

Back to other CDC news for January 16, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
01.13.03; Linda A. Johnson



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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