Latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and active tuberculosis in prisoners are higher than the general population and are two public health concerns, especially in low-and middle-income countries. We conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the prevalence and the factors associated with LTBI among the inmate population detained in three Southern Italian penitentiaries. Tuberculin intradermal reaction skin test was performed on the inmates who agreed to participate in the study. In case of positivity, the QuantiFERON-TB test was performed. In those positive to QuantiFERON, chest X-ray films were performed, and treatment initiated. A total of 381 inmates accepted to participate. The prevalence of LTBI was 4.2%. In the analysis, LTBI was associated with no self-reported contact with active tuberculosis patients within the prisons, and 10% of subjects admitted the use of inhaled drugs. No HIV coinfections were found. No cases of active symptomatic tuberculosis were identified during the study period. Our results confirm that incarceration increases the risk of tuberculous infection. Non-EU nationality and a history of drug addiction appear to be major risk factors for tuberculosis infection in the penitentiary setting. Reinforcing tuberculosis control is essential to prevent its transmission in prisons.
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