WHO recommendations to prevent tuberculosis

31 March 2020

Article: 54/1304

New World Health Organization (WHO) guidance will help countries accelerate efforts to stop people with tuberculosis (TB) infection becoming unwell by giving them preventive treatment.

A quarter of the population of the world is estimated to be infected with TB bacteria. They are neither sick nor contagious, but are at greater risk of developing TB disease, especially if they have weakened immunity. Offering TB preventive treatment will not only protect people from becoming unwell, but will also reduce the risk of transmission in the community.

The new consolidated guidelines recommend:

  • upscaling preventive treatment among populations at the highest risk, including household contacts of TB patients, people living with HIV and other people at risk with lowered immunity or living in crowded settings 
  • an integration of TB preventive treatment services into ongoing case finding efforts for active TB 
  • either a tuberculin skin test or interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) should be used to test for TB infection 
  • new shorter options for preventive treatment