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8 Myths About TB That End Up Killing One Indian Every Minute

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Tuberculosis (TB) is one of India’s severest health crises. Yet, it remains widely misunderstood and public perceptions remain shrouded in misconceptions. Moreover, despite affecting a large number of Indians, it remains highly stigmatized. There exist several myths about TB in India. Here is a list of myths that many believe about this disease. This photo essay debunks these myths with an aim to improve public understanding and to ensure that a TB patient is not discriminated against. TB kills an Indian every minute and we cannot tackle the disease until we improve public awareness and understand the disease, holistically. Because, in the end, TB does not discriminate – it affects us all.


Deepti Chavan, MDR TB Survivor and Patient Advocate. PC: Shampa Kabi

FACT: TB is definitely curable. In fact, effective TB medication has been available since the 1950s. If treatment is correct and completed, most patients are able to recover fully and lead normal lives.


Saurabh Rane, MDR TB Survivor, Development Professional, Fitness Enthusiast. PC: Prachi Gupta

FACT: Not all forms of TB are infectious. TB can occur in many parts of the body other than lungs, including bones, spine, hip, brain, bladder and the reproductive system. TB of these parts is non-infectious. Only approximately one-third of TB patients, primarily those who have TB of the lungs, are infectious. However, within one to two months of undergoing appropriate treatment, many patients become non-infectious.


Ravi, TB Survivor, Businessman

FACT: TB has nothing to do with genes nor does not it run in families. TB is caused by an airborne bacteria which primarily attacks the lungs and can affect anyone. In fact, it is estimated that about one-third of the world’s population is infected with the TB bacteria, and not the TB disease. As you read this, you may already be carrying the TB bacteria though many of you may never get it due to your immune system and its strength.


Keyuri Bhanushali, MDR TB Survivor, Copywriter. PC: Shampa Kabi.

FACT: TB affects the rich and poor alike. While it is true that poverty is an important risk factor for TB, the reality is that anyone can be affected no matter how socio-economically well-off they are. Transmission of TB bacteria is through the air and hence no one is immune to the disease. That TB affects only those who are poor is incorrect.


Daisy, TB Survivor, Homemaker

FACT: Not all kinds of TB lead to infertility. For instance, pulmonary TB, which is TB of the lungs, is not a cause of any infertility. However, if the TB bacteria attacks the uterus or the genitals, then it may lead to infertility. Women are often discriminated against because they are TB survivors. This has no factual basis.


FACT: People often associate TB with HIV. While it is true that those who are HIV positive are at a higher risk for progression to TB disease once infected; there are many other conditions which predisposes one to a weak immunity and thereby TB disease. Those with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, organ transplants, head and neck cancer, those on medical treatments such as corticosteroids, specialized treatment for rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease, silicosis, can also have a weakened immunity.


Nandita Venkatesan, Extra Pulmonary TB Survivor, Journalist. PC: Rohit Saha

FACT: Blood tests are not a reliable way of diagnosing TB. In early 2012, the Government of India banned the use, distribution, manufacture and sale of blood tests to detect TB infection. This is because blood tests are inaccurate when it comes to diagnosing TB. So, next time you visit a doctor with a TB diagnosis, ensure that you are not subjected to any blood tests.


FACT: No. Absolutely not! Sex has nothing to do with TB. TB is airborne and is not transferred via body fluids. You can’t get TB from either sexual intercourse or kissing. However, if your partner has a persistent cough, then its better to get a checkup. Also, if your partner is getting treatment for TB you can have sexual intercourse with him/her. A TB patient who receives regular treatment does not spread the disease, especially through sex!

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  1. Dr. Saurabh Bijalwan

    Keep posting good stuff like this!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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