This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
The World Health Organization estimates that about
one-third of all people are infected with bacteria that cause tuberculosis
. Most times, the infection
remains inactive. But each year about eight million people develop active cases
of TB, usually in their lungs. Two million people die from it.
disease has increased with the spread of AIDS and drug-resistant forms of
Current treatments take at least six months. People have to take a
combination of several antibiotic drugs daily. But many people stop as soon as
they feel better. Doing that can lead to an infection that resists treatment.
Public health experts agree that a faster-acting cure for tuberculosis would
be more effective. Now a study estimates just how effective it might be.
A professor of international health at Harvard University led the study.
Joshua Salomon says a shorter treatment program would likely mean not just more
patients cured. It would also mean fewer infectious patients who can pass on
their infection to others.
The researchers developed a mathematical model to examine the effects of a
two-month treatment plan. They tested the model with current TB conditions in
The scientists found that a two-month treatment could prevent about twenty
percent of new cases. And it might prevent about twenty-five percent of TB
The model shows that these reductions would take place between two thousand
twelve and two thousand thirty. That is, if a faster cure is developed and in
wide use by two thousand twelve.
The World Health Organization developed the DOTS program in nineteen ninety.
DOTS is Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course. Health workers watch
tuberculosis patients take their daily pills to make sure they continue
Earlier this year, an international partnership of organizations announced a
plan to expand the DOTS program. The ten-year plan also aims to finance research
into new TB drugs. The four most common drugs used now are more than forty years
old. The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development says its long-term goal is a
treatment that could work in as few as ten doses.
And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss.
The new study appears in Public Library of Science Medicine. This is an online
research publication that can be read for free at p-l-o-s dot o-r-g. And you can
read transcripts of our reports and listen online at voaspecialenglish.com. This
is Shep O'Neal.