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New Diagnostic Tools, Expanded Guidelines Needed To Reach More People With Latent TB

The Conversation: New estimate suggests a quarter of the world’s population has latent tuberculosis
Pete Dodd, research associate in health economic modeling at the University of Sheffield, and Rein Houben, associate professor in infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

“…In a new paper published in PLOS Medicine, we reconstructed the “force of infection” for TB — the chance that an individual would become infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis — in 180 countries … over the past 80 years. … We found that closer to a quarter of today’s global population has a latent TB infection — around 1.7 billion people. … [I]f we really want to make TB a disease of the past, we will need to address this pool of 1.7 billion. New diagnostic tools are needed [to accurately identify] those individuals with latent TB infections that are likely to progress to disease, and new tools are needed to safely treat them. Only then can the current guidelines for latent TB infection be expanded from their focus on relatively small high-risk groups … to reach a wider population. The sheer numbers of those infected show that TB is not only still with us, it also needs to become a priority if we are going to address this ancient disease…” (10/25).