TB poses greater epidemic threat than AIDS, warns expert

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Sydney, Mar 24 : A lack of focus on tuberculosis following AIDS epidemic has made it a worse threat than AIDS, says a leading bioethicist.

Dr Michael Selgelid, an ANU bioethics expert has warned that tuberculosis may once again cause the world's deadliest epidemics if ignored.

"Though cures have existed since the 1950s, TB is still the second leading infectious cause of mortality - a close runner up to AIDS," News.com.au quoted Selgelid, as saying

"One-third of the world population is infected with latent TB and 10 per cent of these are expected to develop active illness at some time in their lives," he added.

He also revealed that the development of TB medicine has been dormant as pharmaceutical companies are focusing more on making AIDS drugs.

"While one-third of the world's population carried some sort of TB and new drug-resistant strains have recently been identified, not much has been done to stop a global epidemic," he said.

"The pharmaceutical companies haven't had much financial incentive to develop TB drugs," he added.

Selgelid said that following the identification of new strains of the disease, including the Extensively Drug-Resistant (XDR), which most traditional medicines cannot cure there is an imperative need to develop new treatments.

"Since the 1960's, no new TB drugs have been developed and it's said that we shouldn't expect any new drugs until 2015," he said.

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