Gender disparities in tuberculosis (TB) cases are reported worldwide, and socio-cultural factors have been proposed as possible causes. To date, gender differences in treatment outcomes of TB patients remain controversial. In this prospective observational study, newly diagnosed, culture-proven TB patients from six hospitals in Taiwan were enrolled for analysis. Gender differences in demographic characteristics and treatment outcomes, including sputum conversion and on-treatment mortality, were analysed accordingly. From January 2007 through to December 2009, a total of 1059 patients were enrolled, including 819 (77.3%) males and 240 (22.7%) females. The ratio of male gender was around 50∼60% in TB patients below 35years and >80% for those older than 65years. When compared with the female patients, the male patients were older, more likely to have the habit of smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, malignancy and liver cirrhosis, and more likely to present with haemoptysis, body weight loss and pleural effusion. Regarding treatment outcomes, male gender is associated with a lower 2-month sputum culture conversion rate (78.8% vs. 89.3%, p0.002) and higher on-treatment mortality (21.1% vs. 12.1%, p0.002). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis demonstrated significantly higher mortality in the men (p0.005). In multivariate analysis, male gender was an independent risk factor for 2-month sputum culture un-conversion (OR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.12-3.41). Our findings suggest that male gender is associated with older age, more co-morbidities and worse treatment outcomes. Gender-specific strategies, including active case finding in elderly women and smoking cessation in male patients, are warranted to optimize TB management.
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