Tuberculosis now kills nearly 3 million people a year throughout the world. A third of the world's population is infected with the bacterium. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the disease could become incurable if it continues to be dismissed as low priority. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease transmitted by airborne bacteria when a patient with active pulmonary tuberculosis coughs or sneezes. The majority of infected persons do not develop an active case and are therefore not infectious. The disease is treated by a variety of medications over 6 months. A primary cause of the resurgence of tuberculosis in industrialized countries has been inadequate funding for programs to combat the disease in the developing world, where 95% of TB sufferers live. In the USA since 1985 active cases have been increasing to a total of 26,673 in 1992 with an estimated 15 million infected persons. Italy reported a 27% increase in cases during 1988 to 1992, while Denmark saw a 20% rise from 1986 to 1992. The causes of the resurgence are the neglect of health care programs, the devastating link between tuberculosis and HIV (the AIDS virus destroys the immune cells that keep the TB bacteria dormant), and accessible travel between countries and continents. The potential of tuberculosis to become incurable is alarming, as strains resistant to the major TB drugs spread when the treatment of a patient is inadequate in poorly managed programs. In 1992 in New York City, 1/3 of TB strains tested were resistant to 1 drug and almost 1/5 were resistant to the 2 main drugs; a few TB strains resist almost all known treatment. The WHO Tuberculosis Program aims at halving the number of global deaths in the next 10 years by significantly increased funding to poor countries. WHO plans to make an easier-to-complete 6-month treatment strategy and to stress keeping rigorous track of known cases rather than finding new ones.