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Tuberculosis (TB)

for Veterans and the Public

Tuberculosis (TB)

Mycobacterium tuberculosis disease is caused by a bacteria passed through the air when someone with TB infection coughs, sneezes, or talks. It is spread easily in closed-in places, such as low-income housing, shelters, and jails.

Tuberculosis (TB) can occur at any time in the course of HIV infection, but most often when CD4 counts are low. Symptoms can include fever, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, and coughing.

TB can be prevented and usually is curable. If left untreated, it can kill. If you have TB, it's important that you take your TB medication exactly as prescribed (missed doses can result in the TB germ developing resistance to the drug). Some TB medications can damage your liver, but your liver usually recovers if the medications are stopped. If your skin or eyes turn yellow, or if your urine darkens to the color of Coca-Cola while you are taking tuberculosis medications, see your doctor immediately. It could be a sign of liver damage.

Many people who are exposed to TB do not developed active tuberculosis but have a small amount of TB in the body. If your provider diagnoses you with exposure to TB but not active TB, they will recommend treatment to reduce the likelihood of developing active disease.