Tuberculosis

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Student Nurses Fight to Curb TB on LA’s Skid Row

Family nurse-practitioner Hannah Bampton and medical assistant Antonio Vera of the  UCLA School of Nursing Public Health Center administer a skin test for tuberculosis to Craig Mason at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. (Photo/Chris Richard)

Family nurse-practitioner Hannah Bampton and medical assistant Antonio Vera of the UCLA School of Nursing Public Health Center administer a skin test for tuberculosis to Craig Mason at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. (Photo/Chris Richard)

By Chris Richard

In his four months on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, Matthew Morales says he’s learned what clothes to wear so he doesn’t stand out too much, how to keep clean, how to travel light. He’s learned to trust those survival skills.

But, when I met him, he was rattled. He was waiting in line for a tuberculosis test. He takes the disease seriously.

“I worry about it a lot,” he said. “You just never know when you’re going to come in contact with the wrong person, somebody who could be a carrier.”

A scourge in much of the world, tuberculosis has long been seen in this country as a relic of the past. In 2011, the most recent year for which national statistics are available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported slightly more than three cases per 100,000 people. Continue reading