Tuberculosis in Hispanics/Latinos

In 2018, a total of 9,025 TB cases were reported in the United States; Hispanics/Latinos continue to be impacted by TB at a greater rate compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Several important factors contribute to the disproportionate burden of TB in racial/ethnic groups, including Hispanics/Latinos. These factors include being born in countries with a high rate of TB or traveling to countries with a high rate of TB.

The Numbers

  • In 2018, TB disease was reported in 2,617 Hispanics/Latinos in the United States, accounting for 29% of all people reported with TB nationally.
  • The rate of TB disease is 8 times higher for Hispanics/Latinos than for non-Hispanic whites.
  • Read more of the 2018 surveillance data in Reported Tuberculosis in the United States, 2018.
Latino words

Figure 1. CDC en español has Spanish-language resources

Prevention Challenges

Figure 2.

Figure 2. "The information that I find most helpful is that it’s an airborne disease. Anybody can get it."

Similar to other racial and ethnic groups, Hispanics/Latinos face a number of challenges that contribute to higher rates of TB. Challenges include:

  • Testing and Diagnosis
    • TB cases have decreased in the United States. Many healthcare providers may be unfamiliar with TB and may not “think TB.” It is important for healthcare providers to be aware of the signs and symptoms of TB disease, as well as the importance of testing and treating latent TB infection to prevent the development of TB disease.
    • Many people born outside of the United States have been given a vaccine for TB called BCG. TB blood tests are the preferred method of TB testing for people who have received the BCG vaccine. Vaccination with BCG may cause a false positive reaction to a TB skin test. TB blood tests are not affected by prior BCG vaccination and do not give a false-positive result in people who have received the BCG vaccine.
  • Treatment, Duration and Completion
    • Treatment for TB disease can be lengthy. Patients are often unable or reluctant to take medication for several months. For people with TB disease, inadequate treatment can lead to treatment failure, relapse, ongoing transmission, and development of drug resistance.
    • For people with latent TB infection, treatment for a condition with no symptoms of illness may not be a priority.
  • Socioeconomic Factors
    • Poverty, including limited access to quality health care, unemployment, housing, and transportation, are associated with adverse health outcomes. These factors can directly or indirectly increase the risk for TB disease and present barriers to treatment.
    • Language and cultural barriers, including health knowledge, stigma associated with the disease, values, and beliefs may also place certain populations at higher risk. Stigma may deter people from seeking medical care or follow up care.
Page last reviewed: November 27, 2019