Understanding Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance

Armen Hareyan's picture

Anti-tuberculosis drug resistance has been increasing globally for a number of years and the research by a team of Health Protection Agency experts, published today on bmj.com, adds to our knowledge of resistance patterns in the UK.

Although concerns are often raised regarding the possibility of significant increases in drug resistant TB, to date the observed rise in such cases in the UK is not large, a position similar to that of other Western European countries.

The key to reducing levels of tuberculosis (TB) is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. This research re-emphasises the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment of TB.


Levels of TB and drug resistance among the general population continue to be low. As previous research has shown there are particular areas in the UK, such as the inner cities, where rates remain higher.

The burden of TB in the UK continues to affect certain populations, including ethnic minorities, individuals born in countries with high levels of TB, the homeless and drug misusers.

Healthcare providers face a tough challenge managing the complex needs of some of these groups to ensure prompt diagnosis and effective treatment of TB.

Over the last two decades the incidence of TB in the UK has been increasing but since 2006 has remained stable. However, it is still too early to judge whether this is a sign of a slow down in the long term increase.

TB remains a public health problem in the UK and continues to be a priority for the Agency.