James Nachtwey has documented the resurgence of tuberculosis and its varying strains MDR and XDR in seven countries around the world. These countries include Cambodia, Lesotho, South Africa, Siberia, India, Swaziland, and Thailand. He has captured the lives of both patients and health care workers in the struggle against this ancient disease, which still remains very much a part of the present. Not only does TB remain a killer disease in its most recognizable form but it is mutating into even more deadly forms: multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extremely drug resistant (XDR) TB. While still a small subset of the TB cases, these new strains pose a grave global health threat. XDR-TB is a man-made catastrophe, resulting from too little resources being allocated for the proper diagnosis and treatment of TB patients in developing countries.
“Despite the fact that tuberculosis afflicts a huge number of people it’s not on the radar screen in terms of public awareness. Normal tuberculosis, if treated diligently, is very inexpensive and doesn¹t take very long to cure. But if normal TB is not treated, it mutates and becomes 100 times more expensive, requires a two-year cure and a long stay in the hospital, which many of those infected cannot afford. The thought of XDR getting out of control is truly frightening,” says James Nachtwey.