Annual Review 2014-15: Prevention

Prevention is critical to reducing TB. We have a vaccine, the BCG, but it is not effective against all forms of TB and it only offers about 15 years’ protection. The BCG has been around for nearly 100 years and we desperately need a new vaccine. The other way to prevent TB is to treat the ‘latent’ form of the illness before it turns into ‘active’ disease when the symptoms of TB begin to present themselves. Some 2 billion people – over a quarter of the world’s population – are infected with latent TB. Although only a proportion of them will develop active TB, it is important to target treatment for latent TB where it is likely to be most effective.

TB education in colleges

health and social care students learning about TBCollege students make up 36% of Birmingham’s TB cases. So TB Alert worked with the local public health team and third sector partners to pilot a TB testing programme aimed at people studying English as a second language. Health and social care students were taught about TB and hosted ‘healthy living’ events to encourage their peers to get tested at college sites. 464 students were tested, of whom 73 tested positive for latent TB and began preventive treatment. The project also led to over 60 students registering with a GP for the first time.