Alternatives Needed To Inaccurate Blood Tests Used To Diagnose Active TB

A guest post in PLoS Medicine’s “Speaking of Medicine” blog, written by tuberculosis (TB) researchers Madhukar Pai of McGill University, David Dowdy of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Karen Steingart of the University of Washington School of Public Health, examines the medical, public health and economic consequences of the widespread use of inaccurate antibody-based serological diagnostic tests for active TB. “These tests are available in at least 17 of 22 highest TB burden countries, from China to South Africa to Afghanistan,” countries in which “weak regulation of diagnostics allows inappropriate tests to enter the market, where financial gains to doctors, laboratories, and diagnostic companies provide a strong incentive to keep such tests profitable,” they write. “The losers in this economically-driven cycle are patients and public health,” they state, concluding that “intensive research is urgently needed to develop accurate and reliable point-of-care tests” (8/9).