World Tuberculosis Day
aims to raise awareness that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in much of the world, and is responsible for about 1.6 million deaths each year, mainly in the world’s poorest countries.
The date, 24 March, commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of the TB bacillus, the first step towards diagnosing and curing a disease which at the time was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people.
HIV and TB are linked in that each speeds the other’s progress. HIV weakens the immune system, so someone who is HIV-positive and infected with TB is far more likely to become sick with TB than if they were HIV-negative. TB is thus a leading cause of death among people who are HIV-positive, and in Africa, HIV is the single most important factor contributing to the increase in incidence of TB since 1990.