Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a germ. Common signs of TB in your lungs include coughing, fever and night sweats, feeling very tired and losing weight quickly.
People who are HIV positive can get TB more easily. Around the world, TB is the most common cause of death among people living with HIV but TB treatment is available and works very well if it is taken properly.
TB is spread through the air when a person with TB coughs and someone else breathes in the air that contains the germ. TB is more common when many people live very close to each other, such as in prison or in small rooms. Fresh air is important to control TB and it is important to open windows and doors to allow for air flow if someone has TB.￼￼
What You Should Know?
- TB usually affects your lungs but can spread to any part of your body such as the liver, brain and bone marrow. TB in the brain is called TB meningitis and is a serious illness that can cause death. If you have a new and ongoing headache and are HIV positive you should be screened for TB meningitis, especially if you also have symptoms of lung TB.
- TB screening is done by sending a sample of your sputum (phlegm from your chest) to the laboratory. Sometimes a chest X-ray and blood tests will also be done to help look for TB.
What Can You Do?
- If you get a cough, fever, night sweats or start feeling very tired go to your clinic to be screened for TB.
- Avoid crowded places where people are coughing near you, such as waiting at the clinic pharmacy for your tablets. If people near you are coughing go and sit near an open window or door or ask the clinic for a face mask to protect you from breathing in TB germs.
- If you think you have TB, inform the clinic staff when you arrive so they can see you first, provide you with a face mask to protect other patients and even better, find you a place to wait in the open air.
- If you have TB, take your medication correctly and finish the whole course.
- If you get side effects from TB medication don’t just stop taking the pills; rather discuss the problem with your healthcare provider to get the best advice.
- If you are HIV positive you can take your ARVs and TB treatment together.