Dr. James Utley, Chief Scientist at MDX Labs, explains the changes or improvements in TB testing, treatment and care that will help the United States contribute to the global End TB Strategy.
In 2023, what do you think is the biggest challenge that faces those of us trying to end the global epidemic of TB?
“Awareness and complacency among the general public. Awareness that TB is, in fact, still an epidemic and cases are likely found in most U.S. cities. Complacency is also an issue. People tend to ignore the disease because they have heard a bit about it for so many years, yet they may not have been personally affected or infected. They may not see the disease as a true threat.”
3 years on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is there still an impact on TB and how is that affecting our ability to end TB?
“It’s quite possible COVID may have had an impact on the willingness of the public to be concerned about public health issues. Controversies over mask-wearing, public health precautions and the general disruptions to the ‘normal’ routine are still fresh in the mind of many. This likely has an impact on the willingness of the public to accept the perceived threat of TB and the accommodations or precautions they are willing to entertain to stop the spread of the disease.”
What changes or improvements in TB testing, treatment or care would you like to see that would help to tackle TB?
“To truly eradicate the disease, every health care provider should be talking to patients about TB. There should be a screening protocol that every patient goes through with their doctor to bring greater awareness of the disease and to screen for possible symptoms. In addition, taking a TB test should be as easy and available as taking someone’s temperature and often, the follow on care needed to manage TB cases is not available especially to those who need it the most.”