March is the month that you are likely to hear more about TB than any other month throughout the year. That is because World TB Day is March 24 and it seems this is the only time for the media to grab your attention. I am not faulting the media. I believe we simply have not invested in TB education and consequently have allowed the ignorance and stigma of TB to remain in our communities around the globe.
For a disease that yearly claims the lives of 1.3 million people who simply took in breaths of air filled with TB bacteria, one would think we would all have a solid baseline of knowledge about this global epidemic. But here in the US, we do not. TB is preventable, treatable, and curable. Yet TB is a complicated disease to treat that requires all players at the top of their game: public health systems; researchers, doctors, pharmaceuticals, public health nurses, and outreach workers. These are all critical roles in fighting TB. But who have we forgotten? We have forgotten the person with TB and their support systems who are absolutely paramount to educating our community about TB. They are key to fighting the TB stigma and bringing compassion and increased care to those suffering from TB today. Participants of the TB Voices Project want to be part of this movement of TB educators and advocates. They chose to openly share their stories so that others could learn about TB and provide inspiration and hope to those currently with TB. We know there are many more TB stories out there. Maybe you want to share your story.
If as US citizens are not educated about even the basics of TB and how it impacts entire families and communities, the global TB epidemic, with its emergence of multidrug resistant TB strains will be lost on us. We want to change this. Our TB Voices stories are just the beginning.