Implications of directly observed therapy in tuberculosis control measures among IDUs

R. Curtis, S. R. Friedman, A. Neaigus, B. Jose, M. Goldstein, D. C. Des Jarlais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tuberculosis (TB) is a rapidly growing problem among injecting drug users (IDU), especially those infected with human immunodeficiency virus. The authors review IDUs' responses to current TB control strategies and discuss the implications of their findings for the proposed implementation of directly observed therapy (DOT), a method for ensuring that patients take prescribed medication. Field workers carried out 210 ethnographic interviews with 68 IDUs in a Brooklyn, NY, community during 1990-93. Case studies suggested that many IDUs are uninformed about TB and often misinformed about their personal TB status. Ethnographic interviews and observations indicated that the threat of TB-related involuntary detainment may lead IDUs to avoid TB diagnostic procedures, treatment for TB, or drug abuse treatment, and to avoid AIDS outreach workers and other health-related services. IDUs who tested positive for the purified protein derivative (PPD) of TB sometimes have left hospitals before definitive diagnoses were made, because of a perceived lack of respectful treatment, fear of detention, or lack of adequate methadone therapy to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal from drugs. Current TB diagnosis and treatment systems are, at best, inadequate. The threat of TB-related detention discourages some IDUs from seeking any type of health care. There is an urgent need to educate IDUs about TB and to educate and sensitize health care providers about the lifestyles of IDUs. DOT may help in servicing this difficult-to-serve population, particularly if techniques are incorporated that have been developed for other successful public health interventions for IDUs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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