CDC honors John Green for his efforts to eliminate tuberculosis

Left: John Green looks surprised in a vlogbrothers video; Right: the CDC's TB Elimination Champion logo

Author, activist, and entrepreneur John Green has just been named a “TB Elimination Champion” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Green, who is a vocal advocate for accessible global health care, has taken the global issue of tuberculosis and brought it into mainstream American consciousness.

While educating about the history and impact of TB, which is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, Green also reminds his audience that there is indeed a cure — people just need access to it.

He has mobilized his fanbase — Nerdfighteria — to use grassroots social media pressure campaigns to urge corporations like Johnson & Johnson and Danaher to lower the cost of TB treatments and diagnostics.

“In 2019, he visited Sierra Leone and learned about the global impact of TB disease, caused in part by the high cost of medication,” the CDC explained in a brief profile about the author.

“John and his fanbase launched the social media campaign ‘Patients Not Patents’ to advocate for pharmaceutical companies to allow the sale of generic bedaquiline.”

Most recently, Green announced an annual $1 million donation to support work to reduce TB in high-burden countries like the Philippines.

His consistent passion for TB elimination is what led to this honor from the CDC, but it wouldn’t have been possible without his fanbase. Nichole Ezell, a passionate Nerdfighter and mastermind behind the online group Nerdfighters Against TB, nominated Green on behalf of the entire community.

“This is an opportunity for John to be recognized for the hard work he has done bringing attention to tuberculosis in the United States,” Ezell told Good Good Good.

“But I also just want to thank him for bringing it [TB] to our attention. As someone who created this group, this is a cause that’s now near and dear to my heart.”

Ezell, along with thousands of other fans, have become dedicated organizers, bringing others into the fold to find “sustainable solutions for the TB crisis worldwide.”

This includes continuing active pressure campaigns to reduce the cost of care, creating websites with step-by-step information for newcomers to the movement, and donating money through fundraisers like the Project for Awesome

“We are trying to create momentum to help a lot of people and limit that global TB burden,” Ezell said. “Overall, we just try to decrease the amount of people who suffer from TB.”

Green, who has worked in partnership with a number of TB experts and action groups like Doctors Without Borders, the Stop TB Partnership, and Partners in Health, is just one member of the massive community effort to eliminate this disease.

In fact, the 2024 CDC TB Elimination Champions include a list of over 25 helpers who are contributing to the issue — both in the U.S. and abroad — in their own ways.

“The CDC U.S. TB Elimination Champions Project provides an opportunity to recognize accomplishments and learn best practices from individuals who are making significant contributions to eliminating TB in the United States,” the CDC’s website states.

“We are sharing these inspiring success stories… and hope that they help and inspire others.”

Those interested in learning more and staying up-to-date with Green’s TB-related work can subscribe to the new TB Fighters newsletter.

Header images courtesy of vlogbrothers/YouTube and the CDC Division of TB Elimination

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