Tuberculosis infection and the length of stay of County Jails prisoners in the western sector of the city of São Paulo

INTRODUCTION: Tuberculosis has always been a serious health problem for groups of confined individuals, especially in prisons, due to its respiratory transmission. OBJECTIVE: To verify the association between the length of stay in prison and the rate of tuberculosis infection in County Jail prisoners in the western sector of the city of São Paulo. METHODS:An observational study was conducted in 2000 and 2001 by interviewing prisoners and by conducting Tuberculin Skin Test (TST). RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Of the 1,052 prisoners interviewed, 932 agreed to submit to TST (PPD-RT23 - 2TU/0.1 ml) and of these, 64.5% were reactors. For analyses, offenders were classified as first-time or recidivists, and as non- reactors and reactors to TST, according to the length of stay in prison. Among 134 first-time offenders who were imprisoned for less than 60 days, 40.3% were positive to TST and of the 53 with more than 366 days in prison, the percentage of reactors was of 62.3%. Among 146 recidivists who were imprisoned less than 60 days, 72.6% were reactors to TST and of the 25 with more than 366 days in prison, 100.0% were infected. In all periods of prison stays, recidivists registered a higher percentage of infectious tuberculosis than first-time offenders. The association between length of stay in prison and reactivity to TST was confirmed by the Epi-Info-6 Program Tendency Test (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS:The longer the confinement in prison, the higher the rate of tuberculosis infection. Recidivists are a risk of tuberculosis infection to first-time offenders.

Tuberculosis infection; County Jails; Tuberculin Skin Test; Length of stay in prison

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