Tuberculosis Testing

Healthcare provider writing on clipboard while patient rests arm on table.Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease that spreads through the air. It can cause serious health problems. TB is on the rise. To protect your health, get tested.

Important

Whether you have active TB disease or simply test positive for TB infection, you must see a healthcare provider for an exam and treatment.

Who should be tested?

Anyone can be exposed to TB. But healthcare professionals, homeless people, and people coming from countries with high TB rates are more likely to be exposed to it. People such as elderly adults and people with HIV and AIDS are less able to fight off infections. They are also more likely to get TB. If you’re at risk for exposure, get tested regularly.

TB test

The TB skin test tells you if the TB bacteria are in your body. Your healthcare provider puts a small amount of solution under the skin with a needle to see if a reaction occurs. Or a blood test may be done instead.

Getting your TB test results

Within 2 to 3 days after the test, or as told by your healthcare provider, you’ll be asked to return to the office. Be sure to keep this appointment. Your test results will be looked at during this visit. In some cases, a second test may be done to confirm results.

What do the test results mean?

  • Negative results mean you likely don’t have the TB bacteria in your body.

  • Positive results mean that you may have been infected with the TB bacteria. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have active TB disease. You will need more tests, such as chest X-rays, to find out if you have TB disease.

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