Prevalence of tuberculin positivity and skin test anergy in HIV-1-seropositive and -seronegative intravenous drug users

JAMA. 1992 Jan 15;267(3):369-73.


Objectives: --To identify differences in purified protein derivative (PPD) tuberculin positivity and skin test anergy rates by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) serostatus, CD4+ lymphocyte count, and other risk factors in intravenous drug users (IVDUs); and to evaluate the appropriateness of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)--recommended definition for a positive PPD tuberculin skin test result in HIV-1-seropositive patients.

Design: --Nested case-control and cross-sectional analyses.

Setting: --Community-based cohort of IVDUs.

Patients: --Two hundred sixty HIV-1-seropositive and -seronegative IVDUs, drawn from an unselected cohort, were skin-tested for sensitivity to PPD tuberculin, mumps, and Candida antigens using the Mantoux method.

Outcome measures: --Positivity to PPD tuberculin, skin test anergy.

Results: --Even using the CDC definition of an induration 5 mm or greater in diameter in HIV-1 seropositives, this group was substantially less likely to be PPD tuberculin positive than HIV-1 seronegatives (13.8% vs 25.2%; P = .02). In the HIV-1 seropositives the relative odds of being PPD positive varied depending on whether 10 mm or greater (odds ratio [OR], 0.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.2 to 0.7), 5 mm or greater (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.2 to 0.9), or 2 mm or greater (OR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.4 to 1.3) was used to define a positive test result. The mean diameter induration in the HIV-1-seropositive group was 2.6 mm vs 5.4 mm in the seronegative group (P = .005). Skin test anergy (to mumps and Candida) appeared to explain the differential. Anergy was substantially higher in the HIV-1 seropositive group and increased as the CD4+ lymphocyte count fell (chi 2 for linear trend, 24.5; P less than .0001). An inverse linear trend for PPD positivity and CD4+ lymphocyte count was also observed (chi 2 for trend, 6.1; P = .01). In multivariate analyses, being 35 years of age or older and being HIV-1 seronegative were significantly associated with PPD positivity, while history of previous police arrest was of borderline significance. Only HIV-1 seropositivity was significantly associated with anergy.

Conclusions: --These findings show that CDC-recommended definition of an induration 5 mm or greater in diameter for PPD tuberculin positivity in HIV-1 seropositives significantly underestimates the "true" infection rate (using the PPD positivity rate in HIV-1 seronegatives as the criterion standard). A definition of 2 mm or greater would appear to be a better cutoff for reducing misclassification in HIV-1 seropositives. This study also confirms that delayed-type hypersensitivity is seriously depressed in HIV-1 seropositive IVDUs and that anergy testing is mandatory to properly assess a negative PPD test result.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Candidiasis / diagnosis
  • Candidiasis / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / complications
  • HIV Seropositivity / immunology*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Mumps / diagnosis
  • Mumps / immunology
  • Prevalence
  • Skin Tests
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / immunology*
  • Tuberculin Test*
  • Tuberculosis / complications
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*