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  • Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 11 Queen Street Edinburgh, Scotland, EH2 1JQ United Kingdom (map)

Tuberculosis is a contagious, infectious disease. It has been a harsh challenge over much of human history. Now, medics and scientists are grappling with the rising threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis - devastating when combined with HIV.  


That deadly combination has caused significant public health crises in recent decades – a topic which Dr Derek Sloan will explore at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (the “College”), in aone-off public event on tuberculosis: past and present (2 April).  


Dr Sloan will discuss his first-hand experiences of drug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV in South Africa, where he was based as a senior medical officer and tuberculosis lead (for Hlabisa sub-district in kwaZulu Natal) in 2005-6. He will also outline the vital programmes designed to develop treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis and to speed up treatment times.


In contrast, Dr Helen Bynum will examine the long, dark history of tuberculosis – including how the medical community have managed and mismanaged this brutal killer. She will say that tuberculosis patients were treated initially through rest and fresh air in secluded sanatoria – then later with a cocktail of antibiotics as new medical treatments were discovered.


Ahead of the event, Dr Bynum said:


“Tuberculosis is characterised as a social disease, one that has dogged humankind for millennia. The very mention of tuberculosis brings to mind romantic images of great literary figures pouring out their souls in creative works,  their bodies seemingly consumed by this awful disease. If tuberculous is a disease that at various times has had a strange glamour associated with it, its recent history is incredibly complex too.


“It is of great concern that tuberculosis has emerged again in the developed world, both among the poorest in urban society and in association with another deadly infection – HIV/AIDS. The disease has returned with a vengeance, in drug-resistant form. Sadly its story is far from over.”


While the cases of tuberculosis are at their lowest point in Britain for 35 years, it was estimated that England still has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in Western Europe with just under 5,200 affected in 2017. In 2017, 34 people died of tuberculosis in Scotland.


Join Drs Bynum and Sloan as they explore tuberculosis – past and present – at this one off event on Tuesday 2 April, from 6PM. Please book through Eventbrite.