Knowledge Resources & Publications

ISBN (Print) : 978-1-77368-187-0 | ISBN (Online) : 978-1-77368-188-7

Addressing the challenge of latent tuberculosis infection among Indigenous peoples in Canada

October 2018

Infectious diseases, like tuberculosis (TB), were introduced to Indigenous populations in Canada through colonization. By the mid-20th century, TB had reached epidemic proportions, especially in the Arctic, with devastating social and health impacts. Over the years, the federal government has implemented several strategies aimed at eliminating TB in Indigenous communities. Despite such efforts, rates of TB remain disproportionately high among Indigenous peoples, with the bulk of reported cases coming from isolated, remote, and northern First Nations and Inuit communities. While poor social conditions in these communities, including poverty and overcrowded or poor quality housing, continue to contribute to the ongoing transmission of TB, a significant factor is the prevalence of asymptomatic latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Identifying and treating this LTBI is an important part of controlling the disease, but has been an ongoing challenge in Indigenous communities.

This paper provides a review of the literature on the prevalence and treatment of LTBI among Indigenous populations in Canada. It begins by providing a brief history of TB as experienced by Indigenous peoples, including an overview of the factors that increase their vulnerability to the disease and the current policies and practices in place to control and eliminate TB in Canada. It then describes the prevalence of LTBI, the effectiveness of treatment interventions, and the barriers to effective treatment in this population. The paper concludes by identifying some promising strategies for overcoming some of these barriers.

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