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Fighting TB stigma: we need to apply lessons learnt from HIV activism
  1. Amrita Daftary1,2,
  2. Mike Frick3,
  3. Nandita Venkatesan4,
  4. Madhukar Pai1,5
  1. 1 Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, and McGill International TB Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2 Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  3. 3 Treatment Action Group, New York City, New York, USA
  4. 4 Survivors Against TB, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
  5. 5 Manipal McGill Centre for Infectious Diseases, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India
  1. Correspondence to Amrita Daftary; amrita.daftary{at}

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Summary box

  • The global tuberculosis (TB) and HIV epidemics are worsened by stigmatisation that is incited by their association with poverty, social marginalisation, risk of transmission and death, and may be perpetuated by subversive policies and practices.

  • The HIV community has successfully rallied forces to challenge the stigmatisation of people with HIV, through collective, grassroots human rights movements that have led to tangible shifts in policy. The TB community has not adequately contested programmatic norms that reinforce TB stigma.

  • The TB community not adequately contested age-old programmatic norms that reinforce the stigmatisation of people with or affected by TB.

  • Raising awareness about TB stigma is insufficient to mitigate stigma. The TB community needs consciousness raising, a form of activism where people with and affected by TB come together to share their experiences, identify common struggles and begin collectively organising to change harmful practices.

  • TB science can be used to affirm the rights and dignity of people with TB. Common TB policies and practices can be modified to reduce TB stigma, informed by lessons from HIV activism.

In 2015, 10.4 million people were diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB)1 and 2.1 million people tested positive for HIV.2 Over two-thirds of new TB and HIV infections are in lower income and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Together, TB and HIV cause over 2.5 million deaths each year,1 2 and immeasurable social calamities. Key among these is widespread stigmatisation incited by their deep-set association with poverty, social marginalisation, risk of transmission and death, and perpetuated to varying degrees by subversive policies and practices.3 4 The stigma is doubly worse for the 1.2 million people world over who live with both …

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