Knowledge and Stigma of Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Brazil: Implications for Tuberculosis Prevention Strategies

BMC Public Health. 2020 Jun 9;20(1):897. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-09053-1.


Background: Tuberculosis (TB) elimination requires treatment of millions of persons with latent M. tuberculosis infection (LTBI). LTBI treatment acceptance depends on population-wide TB knowledge and low stigma, but limited data are available on the relationship between stigma and knowledge. We assessed knowledge of TB disease and LTBI throughout Brazil and examined their association with TB stigma and incidence.

Methods: We performed a nationwide survey with multi-stage probability design through AmericasBarometer from April-May 2017; the sample was representative of Brazil at regional and national levels. Knowledge of and stigma toward TB were assessed by validated survey questions.

Results: Survey-weighted responses of 1532 individuals suggest that 57% of the population knew LTBI can occur, and 90% would seek treatment for it. Regarding active TB, 85% knew TB symptoms, 70% reported they should avoid contact with someone with active TB, and 24% had stigma toward persons with TB (i.e., thought persons with tuberculosis should feel ashamed, or deserved their illness). In regression models adjusting for clinical and demographic variables, knowledge of LTBI was associated with increased stigma toward persons with TB (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 2.13, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1·25-3.63, for "should feel ashamed"; OR = 1·82, 95% CI: 1·15-2·89, for "deserve illness"). Adjusting for regional TB incidence did not affect this association.

Conclusions: High proportions of this representative Brazilian population had knowledge of LTBI and were willing to seek treatment for it. However, such knowledge was associated with TB-specific stigma. Strategies to educate and implement treatment of latent tuberculosis must include efforts to decrease TB stigma.

Keywords: Brazil; Latent tuberculosis infection; Nationally representative survey; Population-based survey; Stigma; Tuberculosis.