Preventing TB to End TB
Tuberculosis (TB), a disease that has been around for thousands of years, still kills more than 4,000 people a day. At any given time, about a quarter of the world’s population is infected with the bacteria that causes TB. These people don’t have symptoms and are not contagious, but they could develop the disease any time.
Although TB preventive therapy has been available since the 1960s, uptake has been low. That’s partly because the global response to TB has not prioritized prevention. And, even when offered, older treatment options for TB were complex and long, requiring people to take a pill daily for six to 36 months. That’s hard enough to stick to when you’re ill, but it’s even harder when you have no symptoms and feel healthy.
The good news is that a new, shorter preventive therapy called 3HP is now available. With 3HP, people take a single pill a week for only three months. But to build demand for this new treatment, the Aurum Institute and its partners first needed to convince key audiences—including Ministry of Health officials in 12 low- and middle-income countries as well as global donors and organizations involved in the fight against TB—of the importance of TB prevention.
We developed a set of key messages highlighting the problem (TB infection) and solution (TB preventive therapy) for Aurum and its partners to use across all their platforms. With these messages in hand, we created a short animated video, a brochure and graphics for use on social media. We promoted all of these ahead of the first-ever United Nations General Assembly High-Level meeting on TB, where our messaging focused on the need for TB prevention.
Results and Impact
Amid an action-packed global health news cycle, we drove attention to Aurum’s animated video and generated discussions around TB infection through a social media toolkit we created and paid ads we deployed on Facebook and Twitter. We also positioned Aurum as a key player, born and based in Africa, in the fight against TB and arranged interviews for Aurum CEO Gavin Churchyard with outlets such as the BBC and Voice of America.
As TB infection gained attention, including in The New York Times, we moved beyond awareness-raising to setting the stage for 3HP. We released a second animated video that described 3HP, and worked with Aurum to promote new study results on 3HP at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Our outreach led to coverage in several outlets in South Africa and other key countries, where governments are exploring using 3HP for people with HIV and for children living in TB-affected households.