Just adding the word “sexy” to a headline, will guarantee a reader’s interest….if that is not enough- here are some facts that should be more persuasive-
- 9.6 million people infected in 2014
- 1.5 million deaths in 2014
- 140,000 children died from this in 2014
- 480,000 have the drug resistant strain
- 1/3 of the world carries this infection
Most people reading this will be wondering what I am talking about……TUBERCULOSIS
The world’s leading infectious disease killer.
However, public perceptions of this killer are distorted by images of emancipated, skeletal people coughing their lives out, dying a painful, horrible death. Unlike other diseases, there are few pretty celebrities talking about their battles with TB & while even HIV got its day on silver screen and of course famous people have used their major health challenges to fundraise and raise awareness. Lance Armstrong with Prostate Cancer, Olivia Newton John for Breast Cancer, Michael J Fox for Parkinson’s and many others.
But for something that affects one in three people in the world, there is an awful silence about the scourge- where are the runs, the ice bucket challenges, the walks, the arm bands or the pretty plastic flower clips???
Is it because it is still considered to be a “poor people’s disease”? Probably
Is it because people who get it in the developed world, don’t generally talk about it, is it still a taboo? Most likely
Frankly, as a disease, it’s just not “sexy” enough to capture people’s imaginations!
Not many know that TB can affect other parts of the body- lymphs, spine, heart & eyes are common. How many realise that TB is increasingly being diagnosed in the West as well, with travel and migration. How many people actually know that treatment for TB is a long drawn process with patients needing to take a handful of tablets daily for months together for it to work.
8 years ago, after over 2 years of being constantly sick, unresponsive to regular antibiotics and having seen every single specialist in Melbourne and having every possible test done – including an angiogram, I was finally diagnosed with TB.
The aggressive 22 month treatment came with some pretty ugly side effects. And 8 years on, I still struggle with many seemingly simple things.
Interestingly, what stuck with me are people’s reaction to finding out- 1 person physically moved a few feet away and another actually said “Jeez, it hasn’t helped you lose weight!” But not much else, people don’t want to know how I picked it up, most Indian’s don’t realise that in many big metro’s prevalence rates are between 80-95%!
But that aside- I was in good health, had access to great medical care and was able to afford the long drawn out treatment and ensured the healthy diet so critical to recovery. But I STILL struggled and continue to live with some of the side effects. Just imagine the plight of the millions not so lucky…..
On World TB Day- cannot be a better time to share my story-
Nope, it’s not very sexy, but it is quite deadly…..But it can be conquered….Let’s
One of my most favorite songs, coincidently in this movie, Rajesh Khanna’s best friend is dying of TB…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du2m9D_NWFg