Help Patients Talk with Their Doctors About Latent Tuberculosis (TB) Testing

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Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) happens when a person is infected with TB bacteria, but doesn’t get active TB disease. Since people with LTBI don’t feel sick, they may not know they’re infected. But if they don’t get treatment, they can develop TB disease — and pass it to others. That’s why it’s so important for people who are at increased risk for LTBI to get tested.

With this in mind, healthfinder.gov offers a resource that encourages at-risk patients to get tested for LTBI. Testing for Latent Tuberculosis: Questions for the doctor provides a list of questions about LTBI screening that people can print and take to their next appointment with the doctor. This resource can help patients understand:

  • Whether they’re at risk for LTBI
  • Why LTBI testing is important
  • How to start a conversation about LTBI testing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 5 to 10% of people with untreated LTBI will develop active TB disease. And for people with weakened immune systems, the risk is much higher. Once TB disease becomes active, it requires more aggressive treatment and can sometimes be fatal.

With proper screening, we can diagnose LTBI before patients get sick — and save lives in the process. Share this resource with your patients to help them start a conversation with their doctors about this important preventive service.

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