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Free Content Tuberculosis among the homeless, United States, 1994–2010

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OBJECTIVES: 1) To describe homeless persons diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) during the period 1994–2010, and 2) to estimate a TB incidence rate among homeless persons in the United States.

METHODS: TB cases reported to the National Tuberculosis Surveillance System were analyzed by origin of birth. Incidence rates were calculated using the US Department of Housing and Urban Development homeless population estimates. Analysis of genotyping results identified clustering as a marker for transmission among homeless TB patients.

RESULTS: Of 270 948 reported TB cases, 16 527 (6%) were homeless. The TB incidence rate among homeless persons ranged from 36 to 47 cases per 100 000 population in 2006–2010. Homeless TB patients had over twice the odds of not completing treatment and of belonging to a genotype cluster. US- and foreign-born homeless TB patients had respectively 8 and 12 times the odds of substance abuse.

CONCLUSIONS: Compared to the general population, homeless persons had an approximately 10-fold increase in TB incidence, were less likely to complete treatment and more likely to abuse substances. Public health outreach should target homeless populations to reduce the excess burden of TB in this population.
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Keywords: genotyping; housing; latent tuberculous infection

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Publication date: 01 November 2013

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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