A person with active TB disease has drug resistant TB if the TB bacteria that the person is infected with, will not respond to, and are resistant to, at least one of the main TB drugs.

TB the leading cause of death in South Africa

Drug susceptible TB is the opposite of drug resistant TB. If someone is infected with TB bacteria that are fully susceptible, it means that all of the TB drugs will be effective so long as they are taken properly. It still means that several drugs need to be taken together to provide effective TB treatment. Drug susceptibility testing is how you find out which drugs will be effective against certain TB bacteria

Drug resistant TB - how you get it?

There are two ways that people get drug resistant TB.
Firstly, people get acquired drug resistant TB when their TB treatment is inadequate. This can be for a number of reasons, including the fact that patients fail to adhere to proper treatment regimes, the wrong drugs are prescribed, or sub standard drugs are used for treatment.
Secondly, transmitted or primary drug resistant TB results from the direct transmission of drug resistant TB from one person to another. The occurrence and prevention of primary drug resistant TB has largely been neglected during the development of global TB control programs.

Drug resistant TB - the different types

Some organisations believe that reference should, in most instances, be only made to drug resistant TB generally, as patients can be infected with strains with a wide range of combinations of resistance to different TB drugs. It is also thought by some people that terms such as MDR (multi drug resistant) TB and XDR (extensively drug resistant) TB can be limiting in terms of treatment regime: as well as their use encouraging patients to be labelled and further stigmatised by their disease.However most organisations believe that it is helpful and often necessary to regularly refer to two specific types of drug resistant TB, MDR TB and XDR TB. Another type of drug resistant TB, variously referred to as totally drug resistant TB, XXDR TB or TDR TB has also now been detected.