The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released its new TB guidelines which allows medical practitioners to use a TB blood test called QuantiFERON-TB Gold. Doctors will now have the option of the new test instead of the traditional TB skin test (PPD).
One common problem with the PPD skin test is follow-up. Once the PPD is administered, the patient must return 48 to 72 hours later to have the skin test read. Having patients return to clinic for a PPD reading is often quite difficult, especially if the patient lives far from the clinic or has a history of poor appointment attendance.
Benefits of the New TB Blood TestBetter Test Follow-up - Because the new TB test is a simple blood test, the patient is not required to return to have the test read as is the case with the traditional PPD skin test. While the PPD skin test has a significant incidence of incomplete tests due to poor follow-up by the patient, the new TB blood test without the need for the patient to return will dramatically improve the rate of test completetion.
Fewer False Positives - TB experts have reported that the new TB blood test has fewer false positives than its traditional counterpart. Also, because there is no skin test to interpret, the new blood test eliminates all errors that result from poor interpretation of the PPD injection site.
If you are interested in this TB blood test consult your HIV specialist at your next appointment to see if he or she offers the TB blood test as an alternative to the PPD.
Source: "Simple Blood Test Detects TB"; Nursing 2006 Magazine; 1 Mar 2006.