Introduction: Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant public health challenge worldwide, and particularly in Peru with one of the highest incidence rates in Latin America. TB patient behavior has a direct influence on whether a patient will receive timely diagnosis and successful treatment of their illness.
Objectives: The objective was to understand the complex factors that can impact TB patient health seeking behavior.
Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with adult and parents of pediatric patients receiving TB treatment (n = 43), within that group a sub-group was also co-infected with HIV (n = 11).
Results: Almost all of the study participants recognized delays in seeking either their child's or their own diagnosis of their TB symptoms. The principal reasons for treatment-seeking delays were lack of knowledge and confusion of TB symptoms, fear and embarrassment of receiving a TB diagnosis, and a patient tendency to self-medicate prior to seeking formal medical attention.
Conclusion: Health promotion activities that target patient delays have the potential to improve individual patient outcomes and mitigate the spread of TB at a community level.
Keywords: HIV; Latin America; delayed diagnosis; qualitative research; tuberculosis.