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Tuberculosis Awareness Campaign under Way

Date: March 25, 2003



The Metro Public Health Department has purchased 30 billboards, which will be on display in the Nashville area this week to alert people of existing tuberculosis dangers.

Monday was designated as the World TB Day and the TB Elimination Division of the Metro Health Department has launched a public relations effort this year to provide awareness and education to Nashvillians for the entire week.

Diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis is a greater challenge today than in the past, according to the Metro Public Health Department.

“TB patients who do not complete the entire course of their medication therapy can develop and spread a strain of TB that is resistant to many of the drugs available to treat the disease,” states the Health Nashville 2002 publication, which was recently released by the Health Department. “One case of multi-drug resistant TB can cost $1 million to treat.”

Tuberculosis in the United States was on the rise between 1985 and 1992. The rise was attributed to four factors: the HIV epidemic, immigration from countries where TB is common, spread of TB in correctional facilities and homeless shelters, and inadequate funding to control TB and other public health efforts. Additional resources directed to fight TB has decreased the numbers since 1992 nationwide and reached an all time low in 2000.

However, Nashville’s TB cases increased from 1999 to 2000 by 25.9 percent, from about 60 to 81 cases. It has decreased again with 67 cases in 2001 and 66 cases in 2002.

“We attribute the lower numbers in 2001 to 9-11 where immigration was restricted significantly,” Tina Lester, assistant director of Communicable Disease at the Metro Public Health Department, said. “But … we know that a lot of our cases are home-grown TB not necessarily from foreign-born population, which seems to be the case in a lot of other cities nationwide.”

Lester said the African American population in Nashville has been disproportionately affected by TB.

“Of all the cases last year 68 percent were African American,” Lester said.
Target areas for awareness display board and educational handout materials include international community centers, local clinics and homeless shelters.


March 25, 2003, Nashville City Newspaper


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