Tuberculosis in Texas correctional facilities between 2005–2009

Truc Thanh Pham, The University of Texas School of Public Health


It has been well documented that inmates incarcerated in prisons and correctional facilities exhibit higher incidence and prevalence of mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) disease than the general population. This has public health implications because correctional systems may serve as reservoirs for TB disease that can lead to TB outbreaks in the facilities or can be spread to the general public once inmates are released. Although Texas has one of the largest correctional systems in both the US and the world, little is known about TB prevalence and incidence among Texas inmates. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the relationship between TB incidence and incarceration in Texas correctional facilities and investigate differences in various demographic factors. The study used the national TB database from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to calculate and compare the overall incidences of TB disease among correctional facility inmates and similar non-inmates in Texas during 2005–2009. Data were also stratified by age, gender, race/ethnicity, birth status, and HIV status and compared between inmates and non-inmates using chi-squared analysis and relative risks with 95% confidence intervals to assess any significant differences. Results suggest that the overall TB incidence among Texas correctional facility inmates per year (88.6 per 100,000) was significantly higher than that of Texas non-inmates (6.3 per 100,000); a 14 fold difference. Relative risk analyses by gender, race/ethnicity, and those with HIV infection found that the TB incidences for all these demographics were significantly and consistently higher in inmates compared to non-inmates. In particular, Hispanic inmates were more likely to develop TB than their non-inmate counterparts by a relative risk of 23.9 (95% CI 19.4–29.4). Likewise, both male and female inmates were more likely to develop TB than non-inmates (RR = 10.2, 95% CI 8.5–12.2; RR = 20.8, 95% CI 12.2–25.3, respectively), although female inmates unconventionally exhibited a higher TB incidence and relative risk than males inmates, which has not been shown. Among those with HIV infections, correctional facility inmates were 2.6 times were likely to develop TB disease than non-inmates (95% CI 1.5–4.4). Inmates in Texas correctional facilities have a higher incidence of TB than non-inmates. Part of this higher risk may be because a large proportion of inmates come from populations already at high risks for TB, such as foreign born immigrants, those infected with HIV, and low SES groups such as many racial/ethnic minorities. Thus, these results may be used as a basis for more controlled and detailed research in the area, and to further characterize incarceration as a risk factor for TB incidence. They may also bring much needed attention about this health disparity to public health officials, legislators, and health administrators to expand and improve TB control in Texas correctional facilities, particularly among inmates released to the community, and reduce the risk of TB transmission to the general population.

Subject Area

Public health|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Pham, Truc Thanh, "Tuberculosis in Texas correctional facilities between 2005–2009" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1516388.