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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Contact: National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
(404) 639-8895

CDC Analysis Presented at the 2014 International AIDS Conference

Few Primary Care Physicians Provide Routine HIV Screening

New research shows that few primary care physicians are providing the routine HIV screening recommended by CDC.

Testing remains an important HIV prevention tool. It is the first step towards ensuring that those living with HIV get the treatment and care they need to protect their health and reduce their likelihood of transmission. Yet the majority of Americans have never been tested, and nearly 1 in 6 people who are HIV-infected do not know it. In 2006, CDC issued guidelines recommending that all adolescents and adults get tested for HIV at least once as a part of routine medical care.

Title: Primary care provider characteristics associated with routine and repeat HIV screening practices, United States, 2013 (Poster, WEPE181)

  • Overview: To assess the proportion of primary care physicians who offer routine HIV screening to their patients, study investigators analyzed self-reported data from DocStyles 2013, a nationwide, web-based survey of health care providers. Survey respondents were primary care physicians actively seeing at least 10 patients per week in the United States for three or more years. Among 1,006 respondents:
    • Only 21 percent reported routinely screening all patients who had not previously been tested. Providers were less likely to routinely screen all patients if they:
      • Had been practicing for 20 years or more (compared to those practicing for less than 9 years).
      • Were unaware of the rate of HIV infection in their patient population, or perceived the rate of infection to be low or moderate (compared to a high perceived HIV infection rate).
    • The majority of providers – 65 percent – reported routinely screening men who have sex with men (MSM), regardless of the duration of their medical practice or perceptions of HIV rates in their communities.
    • Among those who reported some routine screening, 85 percent reported that they offered repeat screening to MSM.
    While most providers report routinely and repeatedly offering testing to their MSM patients, authors conclude that efforts to promote routine HIV screening for all patients are still needed, with a particular focus on physicians who have practiced medicine for 20 or more years and those with low, moderate, or unknown rates of HIV within their practice.
  • Lead Author: Pollyanna Chavez, CDC



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