XDR-TB has been confirmed in more than 100 countries around the world


TB+HIV: A Dual Epidemic

TB and HIV/AIDS are a deadly duo. HIV weakens people’s immune systems, allowing TB to flourish. TB is the leading killer of people with HIV/AIDS, claiming one in four lives of people with HIV. And, in countries where TB is prevalent, people with HIV/AIDS are 20 times more likely to contract TB than others without HIV. Despite enormous gains made in battling the HIV epidemic, TB’s deadly synergy with HIV/AIDS threatens to destabilize gains in TB control. While people are living with HIV, they are now dying of TB.

Drug Resistance

A Growing Threat


MDR-TB, multidrug-resistant TB, is defined by resistance to the two most commonly used drugs in the current four-drug (or first-line) regimen, isoniazid and rifampin. It is the result of interrupted, erratic, or inadequate TB therapy, and its spread is undermining efforts to control the global TB epidemic. Drug-resistant TB develops when the long, complex, decades-old TB drug regimen is improperly administered, or when people with TB stop taking their medicines before the disease has been fully eradicated from their body. Once a drug-resistant strain has developed, it can be transmitted directly to others just like drug-susceptible TB. There are nearly a half million cases of drug-resistant TB each year. MDR-TB is such a global health threat because the medicines are very expensive, take years to work, and ultimately inadequate to stop the disease and its spread.

Antimicrobial resistance is dangerous in all its forms, however, MDR-TB yields a global threat to health and economic development. A recent report from a UK parliamentary group stated over the next 35 years, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis will kill 75 million people and could cost the global economy a cumulative $16.7 trillion — the equivalent of the European Union’s annual output.


Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB, is a strain of tuberculosis, airborne and infectious, that is resistant to four commonly used anti-TB drugs. Essentially, there is no cure and XDR-TB is often considered a death sentence. XDR-TB has been confirmed in more than 100 countries around the world. There are an estimated 40,000 people infected with XDR-TB today—ten percent of all MDR-TB cases. Without new treatments, XDR-TB is emerging as an extremely deadly and costly global health threat that the world is inadequately equipped to tackle.

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