New York City's tuberculosis control efforts: the historical limitations of the "war on consumption"

Am J Public Health. 1993 May;83(5):758-66. doi: 10.2105/ajph.83.5.758.


New York City began America's first campaign to control tuberculosis in 1893, and the disease declined until the 1970s. Throughout the 20th century, New York relied on three control strategies: screening, supervised therapy, and detention of noncompliant persons. Officials consistently identified the persistent foci of tuberculosis to be minorities and the poor, and they concentrated efforts among these populations. Recently, however, in the setting of rising human immunodeficiency virus infection and homelessness, tuberculosis--including multidrug-resistant strains--has returned to New York with a vengeance. Tuberculosis control in the city has been limited by two problems that hamper many public health programs: (1) antituberculosis measures, while appropriately targeting the poor, have been inconsistently funded and poorly coordinated; and (2) efforts have emphasized detection and treatment of individual cases rather than improvement of underlying social conditions. Renewed efforts by New York and other cities must address these limitations.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / history
  • Antitubercular Agents / history
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Hospitals, Special / history
  • Humans
  • Mass Chest X-Ray / history
  • New York City
  • Patient Compliance
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / history*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / prevention & control


  • Antitubercular Agents