Risk factors for and knowledge of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection among drug users in substance abuse treatment

Amanda J. Durante, Peter A. Selwyn, Patrick G. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine the prevalence, incidence and risk factors for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, as well as to assess TB knowledge and attitudes, among a group of known drug users in a city with low TB incidence (11.3 per 100,000 in 1995). Methods. Patients of an urban drug treatment facility enrolled in opioid substitution, opioid antagonist and other drug treatment programs were screened for TB, including tuberculin skin testing and standardized data collection on TB risk factors. A subsample of clients was interviewed about TB knowledge and attitudes. Results. Between 1 June 1995 and 31 May 1996, 1055 individuals were screened. The prevalence of infection was 15.7% (CI: 13.2-18.2%). PPD positivity was associated with older age (per annum, OR = 1.08, CI: 1.05-1.11), non-white race (OR = 2.81, CI: 1.72-4.60), foreign birth (OR = 4.24, CI: 2.35-7.62) and a history of injecting drug use (OR = 1.89, CI: 1.14,3.12). The incidence of infection was 2.9 per 100 person-years (CI: 1.8-4.7). Thirty-two per cent of 79 drug users interviewed about TB knowledge and attitudes thought TB could be prevented by bleaching or not sharing needles/syringes. Fifty-one per cent thought anyone with a positive TB skin test was contagious. Conclusion. M. tuberculosis infection was common in this population and associated with injecting drugs and several demographic factors. The incidence of new infection was relatively low. In this non-endemic environment, the detection and treatment of latent infection are important aspects of TB control. Misconceptions about TB transmission were also widespread in this population. Drug treatment programs can play a key role by undertaking screening programs that educate about TB and identify infected subjects who would benefit from preventive therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1401
Number of pages9
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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