International Student Mandatory Tuberculosis (TB) Screening Instructions

Welcome to the University of Kentucky University Health Service!

All newly enrolled international students are required to make an appointment with the Primary Care Nurse to discuss TB screening/testing.

What do I need to do? If you are starting classes during the fall semester (August), you must make an appointment in student health sometime between Sept. 1-Sept. 30. If you are starting classes during the spring semester (January), you must make an appointment in student health sometime between Jan. 20 and Feb. 20.

How do I make an appointment? Call 859-323-2778

What will happen at my appointment? The nurse will take your history and then decide what type of TB screening is necessary for you. If you have lived and/or traveled only in countries with a very low risk of TB, you may not require further testing. If you have lived or traveled in countries with a higher risk for TB, then you will be required to complete a TB test.

What is a TB test? A TB test is a way to allow us to see if you have been exposed to TB at some point in your lifetime. There are two kinds of TB tests offered in our clinic. A TB skin test and a TB blood test. See a comparison of the two tests below. The nurse can help you decide which is best for you if needed.

What if I have already had a TB test? If you have had a TB skin test or a TB blood test in the past 6 months, please bring a copy of this record to the visit with you.

What happens if I don’t complete my TB screening requirements? If you don’t complete all the requirements, a HOLD will be placed on your account. A HOLD means you will not be able to register for classes the following semester or obtain transcripts from the current semester. DO NOT WAIT TO COMPLETE THESE REQUIREMENTS as you may have to return for multiple visits over a period of ten or more days before the hold can be released.

What is TB? Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious illness that most commonly affects the lungs, but can involve any major organ system. The cause is a bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

How do people become infected with TB? TB is spread through the air from a person with active TB disease. When the person with active TB disease coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, the bacteria can be released into the air and transferred to others around them. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two types of TB disease conditions exist: latent TB infection and active TB disease. Latent TB infection TB bacteria can live in the body without making a person sick. In many cases, after a person breathes in TB bacteria, the body is able to fight the bacteria and stop them from growing. A person with latent TB infection is not infectious (contagious) and cannot spread the TB bacteria to others. If the TB bacteria become active, the person will go from having latent TB infection to being sick with active TB disease. Active TB disease In this case, TB bacteria become active when the immune system cannot stop the bacteria from growing. People with active TB disease may be able to spread the bacteria to other people.

What happens if my skin test or blood test result is positive? You will be required to get an x-ray of your lungs (chest x-ray) then see a clinician in our clinic to discuss the x-ray result and any possible medications you may need. Will I have to pay for this office visit and testing? The office visit and TB skin test will be covered by your student health fee (full time students). If you decide to get a TB blood test rather than a skin test, the test will be offered at a discounted price which can be paid at the time of your visit. If a chest x-ray is needed, this will be billed to your student insurance health plan. You will be responsible for any deductible/co-insurance required by your student insurance health plan. If you have questions about insurance coverage, please call 859-218-3208 or email

Where is the University Health Service/student health clinic located? The clinic is located at 830 South Limestone Street (across from the Speedway and Shell convenience stores) on the second floor.

Who can I call if I have questions about the TB screening/testing? Please call our Phone Information nurse at 859-323-4636.

Description of TB Tests

There are two methods available for TB testing:

TB Skin Test

  • This test uses a very small needle to inject a small amount of liquid under your skin on your arm.
  • You will need an appointment in 48 to 72 hours for your arm to be evaluated to see if you had a “reaction” to the test.
  • If you had BCG as a child, it could cause the test to be positive/reactive (meaning you have not been exposed to TB but the BCG vaccine is causing your skin reaction). There is NO way to tell if you test is positive/ reactive due to the BCG or due to having been exposed to TB.
  • This test is covered by your health fee.
  • If your test is significant/positive, you must get a chest x-ray and see a clinician.

Quantiferon Gold (Blood Test)

  • This test requires blood to be drawn from your arm into a tube to be sent to a lab for testing.
  • Your test results will be sent to you via the online portal Messages (same portal that you use to make the appointment).
  • If you had BCG as a child, this test will NOT be positive due to BCG vaccine. The antigens used in the test are not the same as the BCG vaccine. This test is preferred for patients who have had BCG vaccine in the past.
  • If your test is significant/positive, you must get a chest X-ray and see a clinician.