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TB test (or 'PPD')

for Veterans and the Public

TB test

TB is short for tuberculosis, a disease that people with HIV are at higher risk for getting. Most people who are exposed to TB don't get sick--the bacteria can live in the body for a long time without causing disease.

You can be tested for exposure to TB with several different tests. One is the TB skin test (also known as PPD), which requires a return visit 2-3 days after the skin test is placed for an interpretation. There are also blood tests for tuberculosis called interferon gamma release assays (QuantiFERON and TSpotTB are two kinds of these blood tests).

HIV can make both of these tests less reliable, particularly if the immune system is weakened. Neither of these tests can tell the difference between exposure to TB (a person is not sick with TB) and active TB (where a person is sick with TB). If a person has been exposed to TB, treatment can reduce the risk of becoming sick with TB in the future.