Forms of tuberculosis are emerging that are costly, difficult and at times, nearly impossible to treat.
This new, worldwide threat is called multidrug-resistant TB, and it occurs when the bacteria no longer respond to the most common TB medications. Doctors have to turn, instead, to older, less effective drugs that can have devastating side effects such as hearing loss, blindness, aches and severe depression.
Maria Smolnitcaia, a 52-year-old singer living on a TB ward in Balti, Moldova, says the drugs make her feel dizzy and uncomfortable. They also are damaging her hearing.
Curing an MDR-TB infection takes at least 18 to 24 months. And it’s a challenge for patients of the communicable disease to endure.
Many patients become isolated from their community during the long treatment. When Igori Tian, 28, discovered he had TB, many of his friends and family deserted him.
And there’s a stigma attached to the disease, says Snejana Negrescul, a 27-year-old mother from Balti, who finished treatment for MDR-TB last year.
Photographs by Jason Beaubien for NPR.