Tuberculosis in the Former Soviet Union


Tuberculosis is still a very deadly disease – especially in the former Soviet Union. The number of patients with very difficult to treat forms of tuberculosis is growing steadily in that part of the world. Officials from health organizations say it is an epidemic and it is not slowing down. More and more patients are found to have the non-treatable form of tuberculosis – XDR (extensively drug-resistant). Though Ukraine, Russia and Central Asia are very different, they have one thing in common – people are not treated properly, and people are not aware that tuberculosis does not have to be so deadly. If only more time would be spent on educating the population, thus preventing the disease from spreading. Instead, those who become sick also become stigmatized, relatives turn away, neighbors stop speaking. They spend months in prison-like clinics, where equipment is outdated and medical and nursing staff are just as poor as their patients. Many leave without finishing their treatment and many come back and back and back. In that part of the world, unemployment levels are high, most young people are left jobless and spend their time taking drugs, using same needles, having unprotected sex. Many end up HIV positive. But they do not die from developing AIDS, they die much quicker – from tuberculosis. Most of them do not even know they are sick, till it is too late.

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