Patients with tuberculosis (TB) in the United States are often described in 2 broad categories, US-born and foreign-born, which may mask differences among different immigrant groups. We determined characteristics of patients born in South Asia and diagnosed as having TB in the United States.
All 224 101 TB cases reported to the US National Tuberculosis Surveillance System from the 50 states and the District of Columbia from 1993 to 2004 were included. We used descriptive analysis and logistic regression to explore differences among patients born in South Asia, other foreign-born, and US-born TB patients.
Half of the South Asian TB patients (50.5%) in our study were in the 25- to 44-year-old age group, compared with 40.1% of other foreign-born TB patients and 31.8% of US-born TB patients. Compared with other foreign-born TB patients, South Asians were more likely to have extrapulmonary disease (odds ratio [OR], 1.7), more likely to be uninfected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (OR, 5.8) but also more likely not to be offered HIV testing (OR, 9.4) or not to accept an HIV test if offered (OR, 11.8), and more likely not to be homeless (OR, 2.9) or not to use drugs or excess alcohol (OR, 2.7).
South Asian TB patients in the United States are younger and more commonly develop extrapulmonary TB than other foreign-born patients. New TB control strategies that target younger patients and that encourage HIV testing and inform physicians about high extrapulmonary TB in the absence of common risk factors in South Asians are needed.