TB is a disease that knows no state or international borders. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 11,000 diagnosed cases of TB in the U.S. in 2010, with 954 cases diagnosed in my home state of New York. In 2009, 547 Americans died of TB.
The good news is that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halt and reverse the TB epidemic by 2015 has already been achieved in several regions of the world. Yet, the MDG remains elusive in Europe and Africa.
Recently, advances have been made in TB diagnostics with the increased availability of Xpert, a new test that detects the disease– including in HIV-positive people – within 100 minutes. However, we cannot defeat the disease without the introduction of faster drug susceptibility tests and new drugs and vaccines. Continued U.S. leadership is crucial to building on the progress we have made against TB.
I was proud to support the bipartisan Lantos-Hyde Global HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Act of 2008, which included a historic U.S. commitment to global TB control through its support for the Global Plan to Stop TB. I also co-sponsored the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act of 2008, which renewed efforts to eliminate the disease in the U.S. TB programs supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the CDC have made enormous progress in combating TB, and U.S. investments in research have enabled rapid progress in the development of new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines that will transform the fight against TB.
This is why I am proud to be a co-chairman of the TB Elimination Caucus with Representatives Gene Green of Texas and Don Young of Alaska. I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner through the TB Elimination Caucus to build on the progress we have made against TB both in the U.S. and globally.
This article originally appeared in Impact, the magazine of PSI.