Hold back the tide?

By Dylan Tierney Moderator Emeritus | 09 Dec, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just made their “Reported Tuberculosis in the United States, 2015” available online. (See link below.) As many of you may know, this report shows that the number of US TB cases increased 1.6% compared to 2014, the first increase in TB prevalence in the US since 1992. Importantly, the majority of these US TB cases (66.4%) occurred in foreign-born persons.

The rise in US TB cases is concerning and should be addressed expeditiously. The question is how US public health systems should respond.

One reasonable approach would be to prioritize strengthening of TB screening and treatment of latent infection in immigrant populations, either at the time of entry into the US or among established high-risk communities already living here. The tide of TB infected immigrants could also be decreased with an aggressive global campaign to eliminate TB from high burden countries, which would have benefits that reach beyond US borders.

There is, however, an ascendant anti-immigration movement in US. This movement has gained political power with the election of Donald Trump at the incoming president. Within this context, policy approaches will likely be skewed towards deportation and border closure as a way to deal with the issue.
So, my question to the community is how to best advocate for an effective response to rising TB cases in the US that treats immigrants with dignity but can succeed within the current political climate?

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