I got a very interesting question from one of my readers:
“Hey Stephen, can you help me understand the online marketing strategy of QuantiFERON-TB Gold (a tuberculosis test)?”
The good news is I had just finished a blog post about the same topic, so I decided to answer this question myself. The following is the answer I gave to my reader, and it may be helpful to you too. Let’s dive in!
What Is QuantiFERON-TB Gold Testing?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious chronic bacterial infection that can cause serious illnesses in humans. More people are getting infected with TB than any other disease, and it’s one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2018 there were 10.4 million new cases of TB and 1.9 million deaths from the disease (mostly among people with HIV and those who are elderly or have other health problems).
Getting tested for TB is recommended for all healthcare providers and job applicants in countries where the disease is prevalent. People who have been exposed to TB are also at a higher risk of getting the disease. One of the most common forms of testing is called QuantiFERON-TB Gold testing, and it’s officially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the diagnosis of TB infection. If you’re curious, here’s an overview of the steps involved in a QuantiFERON-TB Gold test.
The 5-Step Process
First, the healthcare provider or job applicant injects the tuberculin (purified protein derivative) into the arm or hands. The reaction of the immune system to the antigen is monitored in a plethysmograph (a type of bio-impedance meter). If the antigen is not recognized by the body’s immune system, a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction will occur (this is what happens when you get a tattoo). Depending on the results of the test, the practitioner may proceed to the next step in the process. Otherwise, they’ll need to repeat the test after two weeks.
The Advantages Of Testing
There are numerous advantages to getting tested for TB. To begin with, healthcare providers can easily track the disease with a test that measures the body’s immunity to TB. Second, some of the medications used to treat TB are quite expensive, and having a way to track which ones are working is vital for budgeting and managing costs effectively. Third, while the test itself is quite accurate, it can be inconclusive if the sample is contaminated or if the equipment malfunctioned during the procedure. Finally, healthcare providers can offer specialized treatment to people with drug-resistant TB, and those who are HIV positive. For these individuals, regular TB medications aren’t adequate; they need special drugs that are quite expensive and have various side effects.
Why Is It So Popular?
On the surface, it seems quite strange that a TB test would be so popular. After all, getting tested for TB just to find out whether or not you have it seems a bit redundant. What makes this test different is that, in most cases, you don’t have to worry about the disease spreading. In most cases, the test comes back negative, and this means that you don’t have to take any special precautions. In rare instances the test can be positive, which means you have to take special precautions to prevent the disease from spreading. In some countries, like the U.S., the test is considered to be a preventive measure as well as a diagnostic tool. Regardless of the reason behind its popularity, it’s clear that many people are getting tested, and this is a good thing.
When a person has been infected with TB, there is a 30% chance that they’ll develop active TB within the next five years. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of the people who get infected with TB will not develop the disease. This can happen for various reasons, including the strain of bacteria that infects the person, their overall health, and even the site of the infection. Luckily, about half of the people who are infected with TB will develop active TB, and this means that they’re at risk of spreading the disease. The following are some of the most common reasons why people get infected with TB:
1. Healthcare providers and others in direct contact with patients need to be tested
TB is highly contagious, and anyone who is infected with it is at risk of spreading the disease. This includes healthcare providers, nurses, pharmacists, and other workers in health-related fields. In some situations, getting a TB test and finding out you have it could effectively stop the spread of the disease. To reduce the risk of getting infected with TB, healthcare providers and others in contact with patients (especially those who are at a higher risk of getting the disease) should be tested. This policy was made to protect the larger community from getting sick from the disease.
2. Those who are at a higher risk of getting TB should be tested
Due to various reasons (genetics, health conditions, etc.), some individuals are more likely to get TB than others. People who are at a higher risk of getting TB should be tested for it. Some of the factors that put you at a higher risk of getting TB include being HIV positive, having a weak immune system, being an elderly adult, or having a history of the disease in your family. Individuals who are at a higher risk of getting TB should be tested for it. This way, they can take preventative measures (like avoiding crowded places and staying away from people who are sick) to reduce the risk of getting sick.
3. The disease is more common in certain communities
Some communities are more likely to get TB than others. If you belong to one of these communities (especially if you’re from an area that is considered high-risk), then it’s a good idea to get tested for TB. Some of the communities that are at a higher risk of getting TB include people who are HIV positive (who are also members of the community), those who are elderly, and Asian Americans (especially those who are Chinese). It’s important to note that being from one of these communities does not necessarily mean that you will get sick. However, it does mean that you should be aware of the risk and take precautions to ensure that you don’t spread the disease. When it comes to TB, prevention is always better than cure.
4. Those who have been exposed to TB are at a higher risk of getting the disease
Even if you don’t have any known risk factors for getting TB, if you’ve been exposed to the disease in the past (either yourself or through a family member or friend) then you’re at a higher risk of getting it. People who have been exposed to TB are also at a higher risk of spreading it. In most cases, the immune system can fight off the infection and the disease will not spread easily. However, in some cases, if the immune system is weak then the infection can become chronic, leading to serious complications. If you’ve been exposed to TB, then especially if you’ve been exposed in the past (either through a family member or friend or in the workplace) then getting tested and knowing your status could be beneficial. There’s also the option to have a prophylactic dose of medication administered to prevent the disease from spreading. In some cases, individuals who have been exposed to TB will develop tuberculous pulmonary disease, which is a chronic form of the disease that affects the lungs. Pulmonary disease is more common in people who have been exposed to TB, especially those who are HIV positive (more on this later).
5. TB is common in certain areas of the world
Certain parts of the world are more prone to getting TB than others. If you live in or have traveled to an area where the disease is prevalent, then especially if you’re from a country with a high TB incidence rate (like India, Russia, or South Africa), then getting tested for and knowing your status could be beneficial. Some places that are at a higher risk of getting TB include India, Russia, and South Africa. Due to the increase in tourism and trade, people are likely to visit areas where the disease is prevalent, putting them at risk of getting infected. This is the primary reason why, in most cases, individuals who have been exposed to TB should be tested. In rare instances the disease can be completely prevented through vaccination, but in most cases it’s better to be on the safe side. Knowing your status could help you take appropriate precautions and get treatment if and when you need it.