Tuberculosis and HIV FAQs

Last Editorial Review: 12/14/2004

Did you know that:

  • Approximately 2 billion people (one-third of the world's population) are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the cause of TB.
  • TB is the cause of death for one out of every three people with AIDS worldwide.
  • The spread of the HIV epidemic has significantly impacted the TB epidemic - one-third of the increase in TB cases over the last five years can be attributed to the HIV epidemic (Source: UNAIDS).

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that is spread from person-to-person through the air, and it is particularly dangerous for people infected with HIV. Worldwide, TB is the leading cause of death among people infected with HIV.

An estimated 10-15 million Americans are infected with TB bacteria, with the potential to develop active TB disease in the future. About 10 percent of these infected individuals will develop TB at some point in their lives. However, the risk of developing TB disease is much greater for those infected with HIV and living with AIDS. Because HIV infection so severely weakens the immune system, people dually infected with HIV and TB have a 100 times greater risk of developing active TB disease and becoming infectious compared to people not infected with HIV. CDC estimates that 10 to 15 percent of all TB cases and nearly 30 percent of cases among people ages 25 to 44 are occurring in HIV-infected individuals.

This high level of risk underscores the critical need for targeted TB screening and preventive treatment programs for HIV-infected people and those at greatest risk for HIV infection. All people infected with HIV should be tested for TB, and, if infected, complete preventive therapy as soon as possible to prevent TB disease.

For more information, please read the articles on HIV and Tuberculosis.

Source: Centers for Disease Control - Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (

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