It’s Time to End TB Stigma 

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most highly contagious disease that is affecting mankind globally.

According to the Indian literature, TB has its own ancient history and affecting us since 1500 BCE or earlier.

The most shocking thing is that despite of having evidence of the disease, TB was not recognized as a health problem in India. It was for the first time in all-India sanitary conference at Madras, 1908, TB got its recognition as one of the severe health problems in India.

With time the introduction of tuberculin test has given new dimension to the diagnosis of TB.

Over a period of thirteen years, from 1908 to 1921 Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine was discovered by French bacteriologists Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin, who named the product Bacillus Calmette-Guérin. It became a part of immunization programme  to prevent infants from TB.

In present scenario,  several drug discoveries have made the TB treatment more accessible and successful, but the number of patients dying because of TB is still high.

Why? One common answer could be non completion of treatment.  

Yes, but why this non completion happens?

The reason can be the stigma related to TB!

Stigmatization of TB

The most frequent cause of TB stigma is the risk of transmission of the infection. TB stigma is an important social determinant of health.

Why these types of stigmas occur in society?

Myths are sparking a fire to stigma in TB. One of them is that we should not talk, eat, play, share and don’t spend time with TB infected persons. But the truth is opposite, TB cannot be transferred by doing these daily activities.

These kinds of social marginalization with TB infected patients leads to social trauma, shame, diagnostic delays and most commonly non completion of treatment.

Further the incomplete treatments result the bacteria to become multi-drug resistant. It generally requires more and different medications for a longer period of treatment than drug-susceptible TB.

Just because of social discrimination and ignorance, patients are still hiding their TB status with their families, friends and society and feel ashamed of being a TB sufferer.

But is it to be done?

Rather than building a gap in the conversation, we should promote the early treatment of any disease.  TB affected persons need love and care, this would encourage them to share their experiences and help them to recover faster.

So it’s our responsibility to change the thinking of others by changing our first and celebrate the World Tuberculosis Day, 24 March.

It’s time to say BYE BYE to TB

Article by Anu

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