Background: Few low-incidence countries are on track to achieve the ambitious target of reaching TB pre- elimination by 2035. Australia is a high-income country with a low burden of TB, which is particularly concentrated in migrant populations. As part of Australia’s migration program, permanent, provisional and humanitarian visa applicants are screened for TB, along with some applicants for temporary visas. Methods: We calculated the prevalence of all forms of active TB and bacteriologically-confirmed TB among onshore and offshore applicants for visas to Australia from July 2014 to June 2017, and investi- gated associated risk factors using logistic regression.
Findings: Visa applicants were predominantly young adults from various Asian countries. Among 2,381,217 applicants, 1263 cases of active TB were diagnosed, including 852 cases of bacteriologically- confirmed TB. Overall TB prevalence was 53.0 per 10 0,0 0 0, corresponding to one TB diagnosis for every 1887 applicants screened. TB rates increased with age and were higher among humanitarian applicants and those previously treated for TB, although most cases occurred in applicants without these risk factors. TB prevalence by country of origin was similar to WHO estimates for some countries, but considerably lower for others. For several highly represented countries of origin, rates appear to have fallen relative to earlier comparable studies.
Interpretation: Prevalence of TB among visa applicants to Australia and the consequent risk to the Aus- tralian community appear to be declining and remain low. In this context, support for TB control pro- grams overseas and preventive interventions are likely to have the greatest impact on domestic TB burden.
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