WHO Urges Ban on Blood Test for Tuberculosis
2019-05-16 00:13

The World Health Organization is urging health officials to ban commonly-available blood tests for tuberculosis. W.H.O. officials made the call after two studies found that results from a commonly used test are undependable and misleading.


The blood tests are low-cost and produce fast results. They are widely used in developing countries, especially India. The Indian government says the country has more than two million new cases of TB a year.


But, researchers say the tests being sold are dangerously inaccurate. They say the results are wrong in fifty percent of patients.


David Dowdy studies infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. He led one of the studies.

David Dowdy在马里兰州巴尔的摩市约翰霍普金斯大学彭博公共卫生学院研究传染病。他带领了其中一项研究。

DAVID DOWDY: "These tests are actively doing people harm by causing them either to take medicines that they don't need or delaying the diagnosis that they actually do need, to get better."

David Dowdy:“这些检测方法对人们造成了伤害,由于测试结果不准确,人们要么服用了不该服的药物,要么延误了诊断和治疗。”

Traditional tests for TB examine the sputum, a material found in a person's lungs. Active TB is identified if certain bacterium grows in the test material. However, these tests take longer to carry out. Dr. Dowdy says the blood tests are widely used because of the speed of results.


DAVID DOWDY: "What these tests do is they measure antibodies in the blood against TB so anytime anyone has been infected with TB at any time in their life, they will develop antibodies. The problem is that one person's antibodies are not going to be the same as another person's antibodies. And we don't have a test yet that can detect these antibodies across the board."

David Dowdy:“这些检测方法通过检测血液中的结核病抗体来确诊结核病。任何时间任何人在人生任何阶段感染结核病后都将产生抗体。问题是患者与患者之间的抗体不同,我们暂时还没有任何检测方法可以对所有这些抗体进行全面检测。”

The leader of the other study was Madhukar Pai, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He says the tests are usually used by private medical centers -- not government TB control programs.

另一项研究的负责人是Madhukar Pai,他是加拿大蒙特利尔市麦吉尔大学的流行病学家。他表示,这类检测通常被用于私人医疗中心,而不是政府的结核病控制项目。

MADHUKAR PAI: "So these tests are uniformly not used in the developed world. They are mostly used in countries with weak regulation, and lack of regulation allows these sorts of tests to be on the market and used freely."

MADHUKAR PAI:“因此这类检测在发达国家均遭弃用。它们通常用于监管薄弱的国家。缺乏监管使得各类检测方法流入市场并自由使用。”

Experts say the blood tests are a big business in developing countries, worth millions of dollars a year. The World Health Organization says a million of the tests are done every year. But, the tests are not approved by any recognized supervisory group.


Dr. Pai also says the WHO is pushing scientists to continue research for a quick test.


MADHUKAR PAI: "[Be]cause someday we want a simple dipstick-like test for TB, as we have for HIV and malaria. But right now we don't have such a test for TB for point of care use."

MADHUKAR PAI:“因为我们希望有一天能够有一种简单的试纸类结核病检测方法,就像我们已经拥有的艾滋病和痢疾检测方法一样。但目前尚未有这类医用方面的结核病检测方法。”

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