HIV testing practices among black primary care physicians in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine HIV testing in all healthcare settings, but it is unclear how consistently physicians adopt the recommendation. Making the most of each interaction between black physicians and their patients is extremely important to address the HIV health disparities that disproportionately afflict the black community.

The goal of this survey-based study was to evaluate the perceptions and practices of black, primary care physicians regarding HIV testing.

Methods: A physician survey was administered at the 2010 National Medical Association Annual Convention, via online physician panels, and by email. Physician eligibility criteria: black race; practicing at least 1 year in the US; practice comprised of at least 60% adults and 20% black patients.

Contingency tables and ordinary least squares regression were used for comparisons and statistical analyses. A Chi-square test compared percentages of physicians who gave a particular response and a t-test compared the means of values provided by physicians.

Results: Physicians over-estimated HIV prevalence and believed that HIV is a crisis in the black community, yet reported that only 34% of patients were HIV tested in the past year.

Physicians reported that 67% of those patients tested did so due to a physician recommendation. Physicians who were younger, female, obstetricians/gynecologists, and had a higher proportion of black, low-socioeconomic status, and Medicaid patients reported higher testing rates.

Most testing was risk-based rather than routine, and three of the five most commonly reported barriers to testing were related to disease stigma and perceived value judgments. Physicians reported that in-office patient informational materials, increased media attention, additional education and training on HIV testing, government mandates requiring routine testing, and accurate pre-packed tests would most help them test more frequently for HIV.

Conclusions: In this sample of black, primary care physicians, HIV testing practices differed according to physician characteristics and practice demographics, and overall reported testing rates were low.

More physician education and training around testing guidelines is needed to enable more routine testing, treatment, and long-term management of patients with HIV.Graphical Abstract: Graphical Abstract: Graphical Abstract:

Published on: 2013-02-02

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