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XDR-TB: the Latest Global Terror

Statistics that frighten were presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Los Angeles//, the largest scientific gathering for AIDS researchers, Sunday.

Health professionals made the present scenario of XDR-TB or extensively drug resistant tuberculosis that is ravaging South Africa known here.

The meeting has drawn 3,800 of the world's leading AIDS researchers to report the latest scientific news on the spread of the epidemic, which has killed an estimated 25 million people worldwide since it first emerged 25 years ago.

The disease was first reported as an outbreak in a KwaZulu village but has since spread further to 9 provinces of the country, killing hundreds.

The disease is fatal to those infected with the virus HIV. Last year, 52 out of the 53 persons infected with XDR-TB died.

Says Dr. Karin Weyer, director of tuberculosis research for the South Africa Medical Research Council, in Pretoria: 'We believe that there are about 6,000 cases of multi-drug resistant TB in South Africa, and when we treat these patients about 10 percent fail to get better.

Extrapolating from that, we calculate that there are about 600 cases of patients with extensively drug-resistant TB in South Africa.

'Most of the patients who are co-infected with the extensively drug-resistant TB and HIV die within a month. 'Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis represents the failure of tuberculosis control at the global level,' Weyer concluded.

According to Dr. Paul Nunn, director of the Stop TB program of the World Health Organization, nearly 9 million people in the world have tuberculosis, and the disease kills 1.6 million people a year.

He estimates that worldwide there are likely 16,000 deaths among those that are caused by infection with the extensively drug-resistant organism.

Nunn said that the WHO defines extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis as a form of
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