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Treatment involves taking several different antibiotics for at least six months (and in some cases, up to several years). In most cases, by taking medication, the tuberculosis can be cured.
A tuberculosis cure relies on close cooperation between the patient and doctor or other health care workers in order to make sure that the right amount of medicine is taken for the right amount of time. If less than the right amount of medicine is taken, or if it is taken for a shorter period of time, a tuberculosis cure is less likely. Furthermore, there is a greater chance a person will develop drug-resistant TB, a condition that is more difficult to cure.
(Click Tuberculosis Medications for more information about this topic.)
Tuberculosis is largely a preventable disease. Prevention focuses on:
- Preventive treatment in people who have a positive TB test without symptoms of tuberculosis (latent tuberculosis)
- Precautions at hospitals and clinics
- BCG vaccine
- Reducing exposures when a person is infectious.
In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 14,093 cases of active tuberculosis (TB) in the United States. In addition to those with active tuberculosis, an estimated 10 to 15 million people in the United States have latent tuberculosis. On average, about 10 percent of these infected individuals will develop active tuberculosis at some point in their lives. Some underlying conditions increase the risk that latent TB infection will progress to active tuberculosis disease -- the risk can be 3 times higher (as with diabetes) to more than 100 times higher (as with HIV infection).