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Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection among persons who inject drugs in San Diego, California

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Persons who inject drugs (PWID) might be at increased risk for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and reactivation of latent tuberculous infection (LTBI) due to their injection drug use.


To determine prevalence and correlates of M. tuberculosis infection among PWID in San Diego, California, USA.


PWID aged 18 years underwent standardized interviews and serologic testing using an interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) for LTBI and rapid point-of-care assays for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Independent correlates of M. tuberculosis infection were identified using multivariable log-binomial regression.


A total of 500 participants met the eligibility criteria. The mean age was 43.2 years (standard deviation 11.6); most subjects were White (52%) or Hispanic (30.8%), and male (75%). Overall, 86.7% reported having ever traveled to Mexico. Prevalence of M. tuberculosis infection was 23.6%; 0.8% were co-infected with HIV and 81.7% were co-infected with HCV. Almost all participants (95%) had been previously tested for M. tuberculosis; 7.6% had been previously told they were infected. M. tuberculosis infection was independently associated with being Hispanic, having longer injection histories, testing HCV-positive, and correctly reporting that people with 'sleeping' TB cannot infect others.


Strategies are needed to increase awareness about and treatment for M. tuberculosis infection among PWID in the US/Mexico border region.

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