I was given some very good advice some years ago, by a well-known HIV activist. “Read, read, read!”

So much has changed in the TB arena since 1999 when the first edition of my book; “The Tuberculosis Survival Handbook” was published. It was followed by a 2nd revised edition in 2006. By the time of the second revision there were plenty of changes that were needed to the original text. There had been some changes in the way TB was controlled, how people were cared for and how the disease is cured and it was necessary to make it up to date for new readers, the first edition had become dated in so many respects. If I were to write a 3rd revised edition today, (something which I don’t care to do), I would basically have to start all over again. Over a relatively short space of time new drugs and diagnostics, different ways of managing the disease and more notice being taken of the psycho-social aspects of TB treatment have come into being.

To be taken seriously by the professional medical and academic fraternity, TB activists and advocates need to keep up to date with what is happening. Indeed, I would go further. We need to be one step ahead of the game to be able to effectively advocate not only what needs to be done for people with TB, but also to bring new ideas to the table about what COULD be done. Poor treatment literacy among some TB activists and advocates lets the movement down. If we are unable to hold our own when talking about new drugs and diagnostics then what little respect we do have can evaporate in an instant and effectively leave us “politically” dead in the water. Voiceless.

It is essential that all TB activists and advocates ensure that they are up to date with the latest developments in new TB drugs and diagnostics and are able to argue effectively for or against their merits. We have a moral and ethical duty to ensure that we, as “professionals” are up to date, and more importantly understand what we are talking about. This is how the HIV movement was built and continues to succeed in its efforts.

Being passionate and vocal alone about TB doesn’t necessarily make one a good TB activist or advocate. Understanding at the highest possible level what you are being passionate or vocal about just might.

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