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March 1979

Drug Dependence, A Possible New Risk Factor for Tuberculosis Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Pulmonary Division, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, Martland Hospital, Newark, NJ (Dr Reichman), and the Pulmonary Division, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Harlem Hospital Center, New York (Drs Felton and Edsall).

Arch Intern Med. 1979;139(3):337-339. doi:10.1001/archinte.1979.03630400053020

A study was performed to assess the risk of drug-dependent persons for developing tuberculosis. Tuberculosis prevalence was 3,740/100,000 drug-dependent inpatients compared with 584/100,000 non-drug-dependent discharges. In another program, prevalence was 3,750/100,000; in the New York Methadone Program, prevalence was 2,652/100,000 patients in Harlem and 1,372/100,000 city-wide. The city-wide prevalence rate in the entire population was 86.7/100,000 in 1971 and 64.7/100,000 in 1973. Similar elevations in incidence also were found in drug-dependent vs non-drug-dependent populations.

Our data show that disease rate is elevated in drug-dependent populations, suggesting that drug dependency reflects a high-risk situation for tuberculous infected individuals developing tuberculosis disease. We suggest that infected drug-dependent persons (tuberculin positive) be considered for preventive therapy with isoniazid, which can be piggybacked onto a drug treatment program.

(Arch Intern Med 139:337-339, 1979)