Drug Resistant Tuberculosis
While tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium and AIDS by a virus, both diseases attack the immune system, both diseases are relatively difficult to contract, and both tend to kill adults in the prime of life. TB has declined in the U.S. since the early 1950s except for a time in the 1980s when the AIDS outbreak, increased immigration, and poor public health policy combined to allow TB to increase.
Although we have a cure, there is more tuberculosis disease on the planet now than at any time in history. People with access to good medical care tend to survive TB. Because the poor cannot usually afford TB therapy, which is cheap and effective, our best hope for controlling the disease is the development of a cheap and effective vaccine. We spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Starke, a pediatrican at Baylor Medical College about the history of TB and the prospects of controlling it.