New York – A Filipino-American nurse at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Bureau of Tuberculosis Control, Dr. Elvy Barroso, is leading the campaign for screening and treatment of Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI) here, in response to the fact that Filipinos are known to have a high number of TB cases in New York.
“LTBI and Active TB Disease are very common, and anyone can become infected if they are exposed to a person who has active TB disease. Millions of people worldwide have LTBI or active TB disease,” said Barroso.
A free LTBI screening is scheduled for Nov. 7, Sunday, at the Elmhurst Baptist Church on 8737 Whitney Avenue, Elmhurst, New York 11373 9AM to 3PM.
According to Barroso, who is a medical doctor and a registered nurse, there are two ways that the TB bacteria can affect the body – by having LTBI and active TB disease.
Due to socioeconomic reasons, most Filipinos are known to have LTBI, following the Chinese in demographic count in NYC.
Barroso explained that LTBI is when the bacteria are ‘sleeping’ in your body. “You can feel fine with no symptoms. But when your immune system becomes weak the bacteria can wake up, make you very sick and developed the active TB disease. Active TB disease can kill you if it is not treated.”
She added that “TB is spread through the air. Anyone can get LTBI if they spend a lot of time with someone who has active TB disease when they cough, speak, sing or laugh. TB is not spread through sharing utensils such as spoons or chopsticks.”
LTBI is not contagious. Active TB disease can be contagious and spread to your family, friends, and co-workers.
“To protect you, and your family and friends, we encourage you to get tested for LTBI. Testing will help us find out whether you have TB bacteria in your body. Remember, TB is curable and preventable,” said Barroso.
Asked if the BCG vaccine is not enough protection, Barroso explained: “Even if you received the BCG vaccine as a child, you are still at risk of getting active TB disease, as the vaccine does not protect adults from getting infected. This means that your TB blood test will be ‘positive’ only if you have TB bacteria in your body.”
When TB blood test is positive, it means that the person has TB bacteria and must rule out active TB disease with a chest X-ray and other diagnostics as clinically indicated, she further explained.
It is therefore imperative to get tested for LTBI and take the treatment for LTBI to prevent you from developing the active TB disease.
A Filipino patient navigator will support the patient while on treatment.
“Remember everything is free and confidential. We don’t ask about your immigration status. Let’s make NYC TB free among Filipinos,” she encouraged. #