Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Thorax. 2007 Aug;62(8):667-71. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

Tuberculosis in London: the importance of homelessness, problem drug use and prison.

Author information

Tuberculosis Section, Respiratory Diseases Department, Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, London NW9 5EQ, UK.



The control of tuberculosis (TB) is founded on early case detection and complete treatment of disease. In the UK, TB is concentrated in subgroups of the population in large urban centres. The impact of homelessness, imprisonment and problem drug use on TB control in London is reviewed.


A cohort study was undertaken of all patients with TB in Greater London to determine the point prevalence of disease in different groups and to examine risk factors for smear positivity, drug resistance, treatment adherence, loss to follow-up and use of directly observed therapy (DOT).


Data were collected on 97% (1941/1995) of eligible patients. The overall prevalence of TB was 27 per 100,000. An extremely high prevalence of TB was seen in homeless people (788/100,000), problem drug users (354/100,000) and prisoners (208/100,000). Multivariate analysis showed that problem drug use was associated with smear positive disease (OR 2.2, p<0.001), being part of a known outbreak of drug resistant TB (OR 3.5, p = 0.001) and loss to follow-up (OR 2.7, p<0.001). Imprisonment was associated with being part of the outbreak (OR 10.3, p<0.001) and poor adherence (OR 3.9, p<0.001). Homelessness was associated with infectious TB (OR 1.6, p = 0.05), multidrug resistance (OR 2.1, p = 0.03), poor adherence (OR 2.5, p<0.001) and loss to follow-up (OR 3.8, p<0.001). In London, homeless people, prisoners and problem drug users collectively comprise 17% of TB cases, 44% of smear positive drug resistant cases, 38% of poorly compliant cases and 44% of cases lost to follow-up. 15% of these patients start treatment on DOT but 46% end up on DOT.


High levels of infectious and drug resistant disease, poor adherence and loss to follow-up care indicate that TB is not effectively controlled among homeless people, prisoners and problem drug users in London.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center