Health Department clinics provide free TB care and treatment regardless of immigration or insurance status; last year, clinics saw over 7,800 patients for TB-related services
March 18, 2019 – In recognition of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, the Health Department today released 2018 data on TB in New York City (PDF). Last year, there were 559 people diagnosed with TB, an 8 percent decline from the previous year. TB continues to disproportionately affect some populations, including people born outside of the U.S. and people living in high-poverty neighborhoods. According to the data, 84 percent of TB cases were among people born outside of the U.S. There were also notable increases in the number of cases among some groups. Children under 18 years had a 28 percent increase in TB diagnoses (from 18 cases in 2017 to 23 in 2018), and adults over 65 had a 12 percent increase in diagnoses (from 146 cases in 2017 to 164 in 2018).
The Health Department offers free, confidential TB testing, treatment, and care at four TB Chest Centers located in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. Services are available evenings and weekends and regardless of immigration or insurance status. Last year, the clinics saw over 7,800 patients for TB-related services. In addition, the Health Department provides TB services in the community, including home-based testing for people who may have been exposed to TB and health care professionals trained to monitor TB patients to ensure they take their medication, To reduce TB diagnoses among high-risk populations, the Health Department is developing a public health campaign aimed at providers to promote testing and treatment of latent TB infection (LTBI), an early, non-infectious stage of TB. The Health Department also closely collaborates with community partners and health care providers to develop culturally relevant education and TB testing for communities that experience a high burden of TB.
“Following the rise in tuberculosis cases that we saw in 2017, we are pleased to see our case count decline. This success is a credit to the Health Department’s TB prevention and control efforts,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “West Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn continue to see high rates of TB diagnoses. If you have a cough lasting more than three weeks or have spent time around someone with TB, ask your health care provider for a TB test. Persons testing positive for active TB can get free treatment at one the Health Department’s Chest Centers.”
In observance of World TB Day, the Health Department has planned several events in collaboration with community organizations and local leaders:
"As TB continues to disproportionately affect people born outside the United States, it is important that residents have the confidence to get tested and treatment,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “These services are available regardless of status, coverage or medical history, and I thank the Health Department for working with our immigrant communities to help promote prevention and treatment."
“The reduction in TB cases shows that working together, we can change the course of TB in New York City,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Disease Control. “I want to thank the Mayor, Health Committee Chair Levine, the City Council, and our community partners for their commitment to our TB program.”
"New York City is the greatest city in the country, but still has one of the largest TB burdens nationwide. Despite recent laudable progress, TB's decline is still too slow. TB continues to disproportionately affect New Yorkers of color, poor New Yorkers, and those born outside of the U.S., and increases in some of the most vulnerable groups--children, and people over 65-- are worrisome,” said Mark Harrington, Executive Director, Treatment Action Group. “A concerted prevention effort that uses the latest scientific developments, and engages communities, can change this. New York has been a leader on ending HIV and Hepatitis C, it's time for us to also commit to ending their deadly co-infection, TB."
When a person who is sick with active TB disease coughs, sneezes, or engages in other activities, like singing, they put TB germs in the air. People usually get TB germs in their bodies only when they spend a long time around someone who is sick with TB. Brief contact (such as on trains or buses) with people who are sick with TB is unlikely to spread TB. TB is not spread by shaking hands, sharing food, or through sexual activity.
Most people do not know they have TB until they become sick. That is why it is critical for people at high risk for TB to get tested. People who are at risk include individuals who were born, traveled, or lived in a country with high rates of TB; have spent time around someone with active TB disease; or have medical conditions that weaken the immune system. People who have latent TB infection can be treated to prevent developing the active disease. People with active TB disease can be treated and cured through a combination of antibiotics.
For more information, call 311 or visit nyc.gov and search “TB”.
MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Buhle/Michael Lanza, (347) 396-4177