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About one-third of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) and 2 million people die from the disease each year. TB, the leading cause of death among people infected with HIV and AIDS, kills more people than any other disease caused by a single infectious agent, according to the National Institutes of Health.

This highly contagious, airborne disease affects about 9 million people each year, most severely in countries that include South Africa, India, and Vietnam.

While anyone is susceptible, tuberculosis most often affects diabetics, patients with kidney failure, health care professionals, and HIV-infected patients. 

Treatment usually lasts six to 12 months and includes a combination of drugs administered simultaneously, in hopes of preventing drug resistance. It has been more than 40 years since a new tuberculosis drug has been developed.