Rationale: To improve the effectiveness of tuberculosis (TB) control programs in the United States by identifying cost-effective priorities for screening for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI).
Objectives: To estimate the cost-effectiveness of LTBI screening using the tuberculin skin test (TST)and interferon-g release assays (IGRAs).
Methods: A Markov model of screening for LTBI with TST and IGRA in risk-groups considered in current LTBI screening guidelines.
Measurements and main results: In all risk-groups, TST and IGRA screening resulted in increased mean life expectancy, ranging from 0.03–0.24 life-months per person screened. IGRA screening resulted in greater life expectancy gains than TST. Screening always cost more than not screening, but IGRA was cost-saving compared with TST in some groups. Four patterns of cost-effectiveness emerged, related to four risk categories. (1) Individuals at highest risk of TB reactivation (close contacts and those infected with HIV): the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of IGRA compared with TST was less than $100,000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained. (2) The foreign-born: IGRA was cost-saving compared with TST and cost-effective compared with no screening (ICER ,$100,000 per QALY gained). (3) Vulnerable populations (e.g., homeless, drug user, or former prisoner): the ICER of TST screening was approximately $100,000–$150,000 per QALY gained, but IGRA was not cost-effective. (4) Medical comorbidities (e.g., diabetes): the ICER of screening with TST or IGRA was greater than $100,000 per QALY.
Conclusions: LTBI screening guidelines could make progress toward TB elimination by prioritizing screening for close contacts, those infected with HIV, and the foreign-born regardless of time living in the United States. For these groups, IGRA screening was more cost-effective than TST screening.