Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is a potentially serious infectious disease affecting the lungs. While tuberculosis was once rare in developed countries, infections began increasing around 1985, partly due to the emergence of HIV. Because HIV damages the immune system, the body is unable to fight off TB germs. Stronger control programs have put tuberculosis infections back on the decline, but this disease remains a concern for many individuals.
Causes of Tuberculosis
TB spreads when the bacteria that causes tuberculosis is transmitted through droplets released into the air when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, spits, speaks, laughs or sings. When you come into contact with these microscopic droplets, you become exposed to germs.
While tuberculosis is contagious and travels through the air via these droplets, it’s not easy to catch. Tuberculosis is much more commonly transmitted between people who live or work with each other than between strangers. Tuberculosis also has two distinct states, active and latent, and only active Tuberculosis patients are contagious at all.
Because HIV weakens the immune system, those with HIV/AIDS are many times more likely to get TB and, once infected, progress from latent to active TB compared to those who are not HIV-positive.