Yet, as a sex worker you are at risk of getting tuberculosis through contact with clients.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease, caused by the tubercle bacillus (Koch’s disease). The most common form of this disease is lung tuberculosis. Sometimes the kidneys, bones, brains, glands or other organs are affected. In some cases, TB can have very serious consequences, but today the illness can be fully and efficiently treated.
Tuberculosis is almost exclusively transmitted through the air. A person carrying contagious (open) lung tuberculosis emits tubercle bacilli into the air by coughing, speaking or sneezing. When these bacilli are breathed in, they can cause small infections in the lungs. For a small number of people the infection spreads and also affects other organs. Tuberculosis is almost never transmitted by objects (cutlery, clothes, books, bed linen, ..). Young children and people with reduced resistance, including people with HIV, are more vulnerable to infection.
A sick person is infectious when tubercle bacilli are found during the examination of the phlegm (open lung tuberculosis). A closed lung tuberculosis or tuberculosis infection of another organ (apart from the lungs) is usually not infectious. If the sick person follows his/her treatment carefully for a number of weeks, the coughing and risk of infection decrease but the illness is not yet cured.
You may not suffer from all these complaints at the same time. Someone who has no complaints can still have tuberculosis.
The examination is done by placing a tuberculin skin test and/or by making a photograph of the lungs. The organizations for sex workers can tell you where you can have a free and anonymous TB test.
TB can be cured completely. The treatment usually consists of three or four medicines (antibiotics). You have to take the medication for a period of at least six months because the tubercle bacilli are difficult to destroy. If you don’t follow the treatment correctly, you can have a relapse and the bacteria can become resistant.