We examined trends and epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) across racial/ethnic groups to better understand TB disparities in the United States, with particular focus on American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) and Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders (NH/PIs).
We analyzed cases in the U.S. National Tuberculosis Surveillance System and calculated TB case rates among all racial/ethnic groups from 2003 to 2008. Socioeconomic and health indicators for counties in which TB cases were reported came from the Health Resources and Services Administration Area Resource File.
Among the 82,836 TB cases, 914 (1.1%) were in AI/ANs and 362 (0.4%) were in NH/PIs. In 2008, TB case rates for AI/ANs and NH/PIs were 5.9 and 14.7 per 100,000 population, respectively, rates that were more than five and 13 times greater than for non-Hispanic white people (1.1 per 100,000 population). From 2003 to 2008, AI/ANs had the largest percentage decline in TB case rates (-27.4%) for any racial/ethnic group, but NH/PIs had the smallest percentage decline (-3.5%). AI/ANs were more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to be homeless, excessively use alcohol, receive totally directly observed therapy, and come from counties with a greater proportion of people living in poverty and without health insurance. A greater proportion of NH/PIs had extrapulmonary disease and came from counties with a higher proportion of people with a high school diploma.
There is a need to develop flexible TB-control strategies that address the social determinants of health and that are tailored to the specific needs of AI/ANs and NH/PIs in the U.S.
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