Epidemiology and Infection

Predictors of tuberculin reactivity among prospective Vietnamese migrants: the effect of smoking

A. J.  PLANT  a1 c1, R. E.  WATKINS  a1, B.  GUSHULAK  a2, T.  O'ROURKE  a3, W.  JONES  a4, J.  STREETON  a5 and D.  SANG  a6
a1 Division of Health Sciences, Curtin University of Technology
a2 International Organization for Migration, Geneva, Switzerland
a3 International Organization for Migration, Zagreb, Croatia
a4 International Organization for Migration, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
a5 Consultant Physician, Melbourne, Australia
a6 Department of Psychology, The University of Western Australia


We investigated the prevalence and predictors of positive tuberculin skin test (TST) results among prospective Vietnamese migrants. We interviewed and medically screened 1395 Vietnamese people aged over 15 years who had applied to migrate to Australia. Approximately 44% of applicants had an induration of 10 mm or more, and 18·6% had an induration of 15 mm or more. A positive tuberculin skin test at 5 mm, 10 mm and 15 mm of induration cut-points was significantly associated with age (OR 1·01–1·02 per year) and duration of smoking (OR 1·03–1·12 per year). Smoking appears to be an important factor associated with increased susceptibility to mycobacterial infection. It is not yet clear whether the increased tuberculin reactivity associated with smoking reflects an increased risk of tuberculosis among these migrants.

(Accepted August 13 2001)

c1 Author for correspondence: Professor Aileen J Plant, Division of Health Sciences, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia, 6845.