The Global Fund / Vincent Becker

Tuberculosis is the world’s leading killer among infectious diseases. In 2018, TB killed 1.45 million people, including 251,000 people with HIV, making it one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

TB is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. One person with active, untreated TB can spread the disease to as many as 15 other people in a year. This makes the hunt for “missing cases” – those people currently not diagnosed, treated or reported – all the more urgent. With an estimated 10 million new cases of TB every year, we must accelerate progress.

Roughly 30% of people with active TB are missed each year. As long as millions of people live with the disease without treatment and continue to transmit the infection to others, the world will not end TB as an epidemic. This is why the Global Fund supports programs that address barriers to finding missing cases of TB, and expands the most successful tools and strategies. Among other things, this means adding TB screening to other routine check-ups during medical visits.

Learn more

In countries where the Global Fund invests
The Global Fund / John Rae

Making TB screening routine can help reduce the stigma associated with the disease. Fear of being stigmatized often means people delay seeking help until seriously ill. Not only do they risk infecting those around them, but treatment takes longer and is less effective when the disease is in its advanced stages.

Key populations for TB

Prisoners, people living with TB/HIV coinfection, migrants, refugees and indigenous populations are highly vulnerable to TB, and experience significant marginalization, decreased access to quality services, and human rights violations. All people who have, or have survived, TB are considered as a key population for TB.

Learn more

The Global Fund / Tanya Habjouqa
The Global Fund / Nichole Sobecki

TB hunters

TB has stalked humanity for millennia. To turn the tables, we must turn to unconventional measures. Health partners in Tanzania have recruited an unlikely team of TB hunters: traditional healers, people recovering from drug use, and volunteer health workers who comb neighborhoods in the remotest parts of the country in search of the disease. Meet the people on the front lines of the fight.

Learn more

Drug-resistant TB

In most cases, TB is treatable and curable. However, standard TB treatment requires up to six months of drugs that can cause nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. The duration and side effects drive some people to abandon their treatment, which can lead to drug resistance – when TB bacteria is resistant to at least one of the main TB drugs. In 2018, about 500,000 people became ill with drug-resistant TB with only about 56% completing treatment successfully.

Drug-resistant TB is part of the growing challenge of antimicrobial-resistant superbugs that do not respond to existing medications, resulting in fewer treatment options and increasing mortality rates for illnesses that would ordinarily be curable – including TB. Global development partners must move faster to contain this threat of antimicrobial resistance before it escalates to claim millions of lives around the world.

Learn more [ download in 日本語 | English ]

TB and HIV

About one-quarter of the world’s population has latent TB, but only about 5 to 15% develop symptoms of active TB. Individuals with compromised immune systems – such as people living with malnutrition, diabetes, HIV, or who use tobacco – have a higher risk of developing active TB.

HIV and TB are a deadly combination, as each fuels the progress of the other in infected patients. TB is the leading killer of people living with HIV; about 40% of deaths among people with HIV are due to TB. Those who are HIV-positive are up to 30 times more likely to develop active TB than those who are not, which is why it is vitally important, particularly in countries with a high burden of TB, that services for HIV and for TB be integrated. Every person who is HIV-positive should be screened and monitored for TB, and every person diagnosed with TB also needs to be tested for HIV.

Progress in the response to TB

The Global Fund provides 69% of all international financing for TB and has disbursed US$9.5 billion for TB programs (including TB/HIV programs) as of January 2020. In 2018, 5.3 million people with TB were treated in countries where the Global Fund invests.​

The absolute number of TB deaths among HIV-negative people fell 27% between 2000 and 2018, from a best estimate of 1.7 million in 2000 to 1.2 million in 2018, and the mortality rate fell by 42%. Among HIV-positive people, the number of TB deaths fell by 60%, and the mortality rate fell 68%.​

The development of diagnostic tools such as the GeneXpert [ download in English ] machine has greatly aided the response to multidrug-resistant TB. The number of people treated for drug-resistant forms of TB in Global Fund-supported countries in 2018 was more than 114,000 – a significant increase from a decade ago. New drugs are also being introduced, particularly for MDR-TB, which have the potential to reduce the burden on both national health budgets and the patients – but the R&D development pipeline is thin.

The diamond cutter

Aftab Ansari left his village in northern India in search of a better life in Mumbai, where he contracted extensively drug-resistant TB, or XDR-TB. After three years of grueling treatment, Aftab was finally cured, but like many TB survivors he still faces struggles.

Learn about HIV and AIDS.


Published 23 March 2020