How Often to Get TB Test: A Quick Guide

How Often to Get TB Test: A Quick Guide

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infectious disease that can affect the lungs as well as other parts of the body. Anyone can get TB, but people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk. Getting tested for TB is an important step in staying healthy, and you may be wondering how often you should get a TB test. This article will provide a quick guide to help you understand the guidelines for TB testing.

Why Get Tested for TB?

TB is spread through the air when someone with TB disease coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. If left untreated, TB can be deadly. Getting tested for TB can help to detect TB infection or disease early, which is important for your health and the health of those around you. It can also help to prevent the spread of TB in your community.

Who Should Get Tested for TB?

People at High Risk for TB

Certain people are at a higher risk for TB and should be tested for TB infection or disease. This includes:

  • People who have been in close contact with someone who has TB disease
  • People who have weakened immune systems, such as those living with HIV or on certain medications
  • People who have recently moved from a country with high rates of TB
  • People who work or live in congregate settings, such as healthcare workers, prisoners, or homeless shelters

Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers who come into contact with patients who may have TB should also be tested for TB infection or disease as part of their job requirements.

How Often Should You Get Tested for TB?

Initial TB Test

If you are at high risk for TB, it is recommended that you get tested for TB infection as soon as possible. This is typically done with a skin test or blood test. If the initial test is negative, you may be asked to come back for a follow-up test in a few months.

Follow-Up TB Test

Depending on your risk factors and previous test results, you may need to get tested for TB infection or disease on a regular basis. The frequency of testing will vary, but the following are general guidelines:

  • People with untreated TB infection should be tested yearly
  • People with TB disease should be tested 2-4 times during treatment
  • Healthcare workers who are at high risk should be tested annually
  • People with HIV should be tested more frequently, as they are at a higher risk for TB

What Happens During a TB Test?

There are two types of tests used to determine if someone has TB infection: the skin test and the blood test.

Skin Test

A skin test involves the injection of a small amount of fluid (called tuberculin) just under the skin in the lower arm. After 48-72 hours, a healthcare worker will check the site of the injection for a reaction. If there is a raised bump or induration, it may indicate TB infection.

Blood Test

A blood test (also known as an interferon-gamma release assay or IGRA) is a newer method of testing for TB infection. It involves a blood draw and can be more specific than the skin test. However, it is more expensive and not always covered by insurance.


Getting tested for TB is an important way to protect your health and the health of those around you. If you are at high risk for TB, talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested. Remember, early detection and treatment can prevent the spread of TB and help you stay healthy.

Questions and Answers

Here are some common questions and answers related to getting a TB test:

  • How long does a TB test take?
  • A skin test takes 48-72 hours to get a result. A blood test takes a few days to a week to get a result.

  • Can I get a TB test at my local health department?
  • Yes, many local health departments offer TB testing.

  • Do I need to do anything to prepare for a TB test?
  • No, there is no preparation needed for a TB test.

  • What happens if my TB test is positive?
  • If your TB test is positive, you will need further testing to determine if you have TB infection or TB disease.

  • Is a TB test covered by insurance?
  • Many insurance plans cover TB testing, but it is best to check with your provider to be sure.


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