Introduction There is a wide variation in the provision of TB screening services for migrants worldwide. New entrant screening for TB helps to identify and treat active and latent TB at an early stage, reduce risk of transmission and identifies those at a high-risk. It is common practice to screen new entrants from countries where the prevalence is high. However, it is sometimes perceived that screening for immigrants can be stigmatising. In addition, there is a poor understanding of this disease and large cultural differences in perceptions exist. This study explores the different attitudes towards screening and the current awareness, perceptions and attitudes towards TB, in order to tailor the current screening programme to different cultural backgrounds.
Methods 27 participants (63% male) were recruited at the weekly multi-disciplinary Liverpool TB contact-tracing clinic. Semi-structured interviews (18% interpreter help) exploring the attitudes towards screening and the disease were conducted.
Results 59% of participants were aware of the causative agent, 74% identified at least 1 associated symptom and 89% recognised that transmission was air borne. 89% considered TB curable, 33% were aware of the link with HIV and 44% stressed that a greater awareness of TB among the general public is needed. The main source of information about the disease was family and friends (43%) and clinic (42%). The majority (59%) felt there was a stigma attached with fear of social isolation and an impact on occupation. 59% expressed a positive attitude towards screening and perceived it to be acceptable due to the availability of free treatment. The majority of the participants regarded screening as prevention of transmission and felt it was their responsibility in society. 22% of the participants thought it was unnecessary or were unsatisfied with the current screening process. Seven per cent of the participants demonstrated poor understanding of the screening process, having already undergone screening.
Conclusions The majority of the migrants found TB screening to be acceptable and demonstrated a positive attitude, although some barriers still exist. Improving TB awareness in the communities will help increase the acceptability of screening.