My wife tested positive for tuberculosis (TB). While this is more of a hassle for her than a health crisis (I’ll explain why later), for other Asian Americans, it is a serious problem. As this article from US Department of Health and Human Services points out, Asian Americans are at increased risk of tuberculosis, and have the highest TB rate of any group in the United States, which is 22 times greater than that of non-Hispanic whites.
What is Tuberculosis (TB)? TB is a disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. While it usually attacks the lungs, it can also affect any part of the body, and can be fatal if not properly treated. TB was once the leading cause of death in the US. It usually can be cured, although multi-drug resistant strains of TB have emerged. One reason that Asian Americans are more affected by Tuberculosis is that the disease is endemic in many of the countries from which Asian Americans immigrate. Asian Americans born overseas are 11 times more likely than those born in the US to have tuberculosis.
You might be wondering why a positive TB test is more of a hassle for The Wife (and many other Asian American Health professionals) than a hazard. One of the effects of TB exposure is that someone exposed to TB can give a false positive to TB tests like the PPD skin test. Exposure was very possible as she grew up in the Philippines. Also, people who have received the BCG tuberculosis vaccine, which she received, can also give a false positive TB test result. Since The Wife is a nurse and tested positive for TB exposure, she had give her hospital a chest X-ray that unlike the one above, shows that she is free from TB infection.
For more information, check out these resources: