Tuberc Respir Dis.  2019 Oct;82(4):306-310. 10.4046/trd.2019.0034.

Experiences of Latent Tuberculosis Infection Treatment for the North Korean Refugees

  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Sleep and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University Ansan Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, Ansan, Korea.
  • 2Korea Institute of Tuberculosis, Cheongju, Korea.
  • 3Medical Science Research Center, Korea University Ansan Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, Ansan, Korea.
  • 4Settlement Support Center for North Korean Refugees (Hanawon), Hwacheon, Korea.


Tuberculosis (TB) is increasing in immigrants. We aimed to investigate the current status of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) treatment for North Korean Refugees (NKR) compared to South Koreans Contacts (SKC).
TB close contacts in a closed facility of SKC and NKR who underwent LTBI screening in a settlement support center for NKR were analyzed retrospectively.
Among tuberculin skin test (TST) ≥10 mm (n=298) reactors, the males accounted for 72.2% in SKC (n=126) and 19.5% in NKR (n=172) (p<0.01). The mean age was higher in South Korea (42.8±9.9 years vs. 35.4±10.0 years, p<0.01). Additionally, the mean TST size was significantly bigger in NKR (17.39±3.9 mm vs. 16.57±4.2 mm, p=0.03). The LTBI treatments were initiated for all screened NKR, and LTBI completion rate was only 68.0%. However, in NKR, LTBI treatment completion rate was significantly increased by shorter 4R regimen (odds ratio [OR], 9.296; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.159-20.774; p<0.01) and male (OR, 3.447; 95% CI, 1.191-9.974; p=0.02).
LTBI treatment compliance must be improved in NKR with a shorter regimen. In addition, a larger study regarding a focus on LTBI with easy access to related data for NKR should be conducted.


Latent Tuberculosis Infection; Tuberculin Test; Interferon-Gamma Release Tests; Therapeutics; Asian Continental Ancestry Group; Refugees
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