Asian Persons

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TB risk 32 times higher for Asian persons

In 2019, a total of 8,916 TB cases were reported in the United States; however, Asian persons continue to be impacted by TB at a greater rate compared to other racial and ethnic minority groups.

Several important factors contribute to the higher rates of TB among racial and ethnic minority groups, including Asian persons. These factors include being born in a country with a high rate of TB or travel to a country with a high rate of TB.

The Numbers

In 2019, U.S. state, local, and territorial health agencies reported 8,916 TB cases to CDC.

  • In 2019, TB disease was reported in 3,150 Asian persons in the United States, accounting for nearly 36% of all people reported with TB nationally.
  • The rate of TB disease is 32 times higher for Asian persons than for non-Hispanic White persons.
  • Read more of the 2019 surveillance data in Reported Tuberculosis in the United States, 2019.
woman with her baby

Countries with highest TB burden among non-U.S.-born Asians, 2019

  1. Philippines
  2. India
  3. Vietnam
  4. China
  5. Myanmar

Prevention Challenges

TB is a challenging disease to diagnose, treat, and control. Dwindling resources and loss of public health capacity, including access to care and maintaining clinical and public health expertise, add to the challenge. It is critical to reach those populations at highest risk for TB, and to identify and implement innovative strategies to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Ending TB will require a dual approach of maintaining and strengthening current TB control priorities, while increasing efforts to identify and treat latent TB infection in populations at risk for TB disease.

Similar to other racial and ethnic minority groups, Asian persons face a number of challenges that contribute to higher rates of TB. Challenges include:

  • Testing and Diagnosis
    • Many people born outside of the United States have been given a vaccine for TB called BCG. Vaccination with BCG may cause a false positive reaction to a TB skin test. A positive reaction to a TB skin test may be due to the BCG vaccine itself or due to infection with TB bacteria. TB blood tests are the preferred method of TB testing for people who have received the BCG vaccine. 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
    • People experiencing poverty, including those with limited access to quality health care, unemployment, housing, and transportation, disproportionately experience 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: October 23, 2020