A person can have a tuberculosis (TB) infection for years without any signs of disease. But if that person’s immune system gets weak, the infection can quickly turn into TB disease. Also, if a person who has a weak immune system spends time with someone with infectious TB, he or she may become infected with TB bacteria and quickly develop TB disease.
Because HIV infection weakens the immune system, people with TB infection and HIV infection are at very high risk of developing TB disease. All HIV-infected people should be given a TB skin test to find out if they have TB infection. If they have TB infection, they need preventive therapy as soon as possible to prevent them from developing TB disease. If they have TB disease, they must take medicine to cure the disease. TB disease can be prevented or cured in people with HIV infection.