Despite many people believing TB has been eradicated in the UK it never went away. In fact, the UK experienced a two decade long rise in cases from the mid-1980s. It is only in the last three years that the UK has begun to match the global trend for falling rates of TB.
- There were 6,520 TB cases
- 39% of cases were in London
- 72% of cases were among non-UK born people
- 10% of people with TB had at least one social risk factor for TB (a history of alcohol or drug misuse, homelessness or imprisonment)
- 30% of people with pulmonary TB waited over four months from onset of symptoms to beginning treatment
Who gets TB?
In 2014, 72% of TB cases were found among people born outside the UK. Of these, 86% were among people that have been in the country for longer than two years – suggesting reactivation of latent TB
India, Pakistan and Somalia were the most frequent countries of birth for non-UK born cases, though rates among this group have decreased significantly over the last two years. This decrease in rates is also true in the non-UK born population as a whole.
TB remains an illness that is associated with health inequality. People in deprived communities have rates of TB seven times higher than people in the least deprived areas. 34% of cases were found among people not in education or employment.
10% of cases had at least one social risk factor for TB: 6.6% had a history of alcohol or drug misuse, 3.4% homelessness and 3.3% imprisonment. People with social risk factors for TB also make up a disproportionate amount of the total number of people with drug-resistant forms of the illness.
The UK government does not have any current targets for tuberculosis in the UK. As the only TB charity working on tuberculosis nationally, TB Alert would like to see this change. This is why we have been advocating for the development of a National Strategy. We are now part of the national TB Oversight Group developing the strategy over coming months.