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World Tuberculosis Day, falling on March 24 each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of about 1.6 million people each year, mostly in the Third World. March 24 commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch's announcement in Berlinmarker, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch's discovery opened the way toward diagnosing and curing tuberculosis.

In 1982, on the one-hundredth anniversary of Dr Koch's presentation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) proposed that March 24 be proclaimed an official World TB Day. In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) joined with the IUATLD and a wide range of other concerned organizations to increase the impact of World TB Day.

TB and AIDS in South Africa

The occurrence of TB in South Africa has tripled in recent years: the high HIV infection rate in South Africa has made the treatment of TB more difficult; South Africans receive a grant during the six months required for treatment, however treatment is purposefully disrupted to continue receiving the grant.

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