Alarming tuberculosis rate among people who inject drugs in Vietnam

BACKGROUND: The tuberculosis (TB) epidemic is not homogeneous in the general population but presents high-risk groups. People who inject drugs (PWID) are such a group. However, TB among PWID remains largely undocumented. Our goal was to assess the prevalence of TB and the risk factors associated with TB among PWID in Vietnam.

METHODS: We implemented a cross-sectional survey among 2 community-based cohorts of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive and HIV-negative PWID in Hai Phong. Participants were screened for TB using questions on TB symptoms. Those who reported any symptom were accompanied by peers to the TB clinic for chest x-ray. If the latter was abnormal, a sputum was collected to perform an Xpert MTB/RIF test.

RESULTS: A total of 885 PWID were screened for TB. For both cohorts, most PWID were male (>90.0%), with a median age of 42 years. Beside heroin injection, 52.5% of participants reported smoking methamphetamine, and 63.2% were on methadone. Among HIV-positive PWID (N = 451), 90.4% were on antiretroviral therapy and 81.6% had a viral load <1000 copies/mL. Using a complete-case analysis, the estimated TB prevalence was 2.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0-4.5) and 2.1% (95% CI, 0.8-4.2) among HIV-positive and HIV-negative people, respectively. Living as a couple, arrest over the past 6 months, homelessness, and smoking methamphetamine were independently associated with TB but not HIV infection.

CONCLUSIONS: In the context of very large antiretroviral therapy coverage, this extremely high rate of TB among PWID requires urgent actions.

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Full citation:
Nagot N, Vinh VH, Thuy TTD, Oanh KTH, Rapoud D, Giang HT, Quillet C, Khue PM, Vallo R, Thanh NTT, Castellani J, Feelemyer J, Des Jarlais DC, Nguyen LP, Van Le HV, Nguyen NV, Vo LNQ, Huong DT, Moles JP, Laureillard D (2022).
Alarming tuberculosis rate among people who inject drugs in Vietnam
Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 9 (2), ofab548. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofab548. PMCID: PMC8801226.