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Largest-Ever Study Of Community-Wide TB Drug Prevention Did Not Improve TB Control In South African Mines

“After seven years of research, the world’s largest study of preventative tuberculosis (TB) therapy has found that untargeted, community-wide distribution of TB prevention drugs did not improve TB control in South African gold mines,” PlusNews reports. “Conducted among 27,000 gold-mine employees in 15 mines, the Thibela TB study tested the theory that treating an entire community with the first-line TB drug isoniazid could result in long-lasting reductions in active TB cases and TB prevalence,” the news service writes (3/9). The study found that “provid[ing] community-wide isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT)” did “not improve TB control,” according to Health-e. “However, evidence showed that there were 63 percent fewer TB cases among individuals in the program during the first nine months of the program, providing reassurance that IPT works for people who take it,” the news service notes (Thom, 3/14).

In a separate article, PlusNews examines some of the other findings that came out of the seven-year Thibela TB study, including that chest x-rays are not necessary to begin patients on IPT; IPT use by people with HIV reduced their chance of dying; and serious side effects of IPT were not as common as previously believed (3/13).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.