THE existence of tuberculosis is at least 34 times greater among the homeless than the general population, Oxford University researchers found.

The study also found that rates of HIV and hepatitis C are many times higher among homeless people.

Dr Seena Fazel, of the university’s Department of Psychiatry, led the study published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Dr Fazel said: “Improvements in care of homeless people could have pronounced effects on public health.”

“Screening for tuberculosis needs to be done by active case-finding.

“It can’t just be restricted to people with the symptoms of tuberculosis presenting to health services, which happens less and later in marginalised groups than in the general population.”

Oxford has a significant homelessness problem – in December last year there were 144 households in temporary accommodation provided by the city council.

The study by researchers from Oxford University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden was funded by the Wellcome Trust. It looked at data from more than 40 studies since 1984 assessing levels of HIV, hepatitis C and TB among homeless people.