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While not recommended as a general screen, screening for tuberculosis (TB) is recommended based on known risk factors. In Australia the number of TB cases remains constant, about 1,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Those individuals at risk for developing tuberculosis include HIV, being immunosuppressed (e.g. cancer, chronic kidney disease), migrants from high tuberculosis prevalence countries. Infected people may not feel ill or have symptoms but can reactivate and develop disease if treated with immunosuppressive medication or chemotherapy.
A tuberculin (Mantoux) skin test may be recommended if you are at risk of infection, have come in contact with a person infected with tuberculosis, in HIV-positive individuals and in some individuals receiving immunosuppressive therapy. A blood test is also available called an interferon gamma release assay or Quantiferon and has the advantage of not cross reacting in people who have had the BCG TB vaccine.
The skin or blood tests are mainly done to diagnose latent tuberculosis or for selecting people for the treatment of latent tuberculosis, and this is generally done through the TB health services.