Living conditions, ability to seek medical treatment, and awareness of health conditions and healthcare options among homeless persons in Tokyo, Japan.
A survey was conducted to clarify the tuberculosis (TB) situation among the homeless during the period from 1991 to 1995 in Nagoya city, using 5,222 registration cards of TB cases registered at one of Nagoya City's 16 Health Centers. Out of 5,222 TB cases, there were 269 homeless cases (267 male and 2 female). Ninety-seven percent of them were pulmonary TB cases. The incidence and prevalence rates of TB per 100,000 among the homeless were estimated at around 1,500 and around 2,400, respectively, around 20 times higher than those of the non-homeless male over the 19 years of age. A decrease in the incidence rate of TB cases among the homeless was not seen, although the rate among the non-homeless decreased gradually. The percentage of infectious (bacillary and/or cavitary) tuberculous cases among the homeless was higher than in the non-homeless. In the infectious cases, the percentage of smear-positive bacillary cases or far advanced cavitary cases was 52.1% or 9.4% among the homeless compared to 48.1% or 2.6% among the non-homeless, respectively. The detection rate by chest X-ray examination of the homeless was 3.9%.