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People are most at risk from tuberculosis if they know someone who already has, or has had, TB. This could be someone they live or work with, or a close friend. It usually takes eight hours or more exposure for enough TB bacteria to build up in the body to be a risk.
Zambian mother and child at home
Anyone can be affected by TB, though certain factors do increase risk. These are common to low-incidence countries like the UK as well as high-incidence regions such as Africa and Asia.
Living where TB is common: You are more likely to be exposed to TB bacteria if you live in an area where TB is common. TB tends to cluster in urban areas – London has over 40% of the UK’s TB cases. Worldwide, just 22% of countries have over 80% of the world's TB cases.

Dark, unventilated or overcrowded accommodation: TB bacteria can spread more easily and remain suspended in the air for longer in poor housing conditions or working environments.

Immune system pressures: poor nutrition, poverty, poor housing and substance misuse can all weaken the immune system. Other illnesses can also make someone more vulnerable to TB. People living with HIV are at a particular risk from TB.

Find out more about the social and economic factors that can make people more vulnerable to TB, under
Global TB challenges.

» Diagnosis

  • We need people – people like those in TB Alert, who are focused and ambitious and care for people at grass roots in the UK, India and Africa. Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership

  • We cannot win the battle against AIDS if we do not also fight TB. TB is too often a death sentence for people with AIDS. It does not have to be this way. We have known how to cure TB for more than 50 years. What we have lacked is the will and the resources to quickly diagnose people with TB and get them the treatment they need. Nelson Mandela

  • I am very impressed by the work done by TB Alert, that is why I wanted to spread the message...I am one of those that did think that TB had been eradicated...and suddenly it is back in a very big way! Baroness Joan Bakewell, explaining why she supports TB Alert

  • TB is the child of poverty – and also its parent and provider. TB Alert's Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu

  • TB Alert are passionate in their work to stamp out TB in the UK and alleviate the problems of people with TB. Alan Higgins, Director of Public Health, Oldham

  • TB Alert allowed me to regain a purpose to live. People who listened, understood and never judged. I am now proud to be part of the team which is able to offer peer support to others. Steve, TB Action Group member

  • TB Alert UK respects partnership work. Chennupati Vidya, President  of TB Alert partner, VMM