How is TB treated?

TB can be treated. For the vast majority of persons with the disease, TB is treated here in Nunavik.

The traumatizing experience known to Nunavimmiut during the episodes of tuberculosis in the period from the 1950s to the 1970s continues to haunt Nunavik. TB is treated very differently today; infected patients are no longer systematically sent to the South for treatment. When hospitalization is necessary for an infected patient, most of the time it is in Puvirnituq or Kuujjuaq. When hospitalization in Montréal is necessary for more serious cases, it is normally for a brief period.

Adults with active TB must in general be isolated and are obliged to take medication. But once the disease is stabilized and the patients are no longer contagious, they are discharged from hospital. They must, however, complete their full treatment in order to recover from the disease.

Treatment for active TB can take from six to nine months. In some cases, it can take up to 12 months.

In a person with latent TB, the medication can eliminate the bacteria in four months. However, in some cases, it can take up to nine months. A new, easier treatment (one dose per week for 12 weeks) should be available in Nunavik soon.

Persons with latent TB must understand that there is a risk: latent TB can evolve into the active form at any time. It can become contagious, representing a threat for their families and community. Persons with latent TB must be strongly encouraged to take their medication, because it is by doing so that they contribute actively to the eradication of TB in Nunavik.