March 1991

Physicians' Effectiveness in Assessing Risk for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

Author Affiliations

From the Offices of Consultation and Research in Medical Education (Dr Ferguson) and of Curriculum and Student Affairs (Dr Helms), and the Department of Internal Medicine (Drs Stapleton and Helms), University of Iowa College of Medicine, and the Departments of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr Stapleton), Iowa City, Iowa. Dr Stapleton is a Research Associate of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(3):561-564. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400030101018

An American Medical Association committee recently recommended that physicians routinely screen patients for behaviors that put patients at risk for human immunodeficiency virus infection, yet there is evidence that this screening does not occur routinely. Faculty, fellows, and residents at a teaching hospital in a midwestern state with a low prevalence of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome were surveyed regarding their experience in screening for human immunodeficiency virus, their training related to substance abuse and human sexuality, and their confidence and ease in addressing such topics with their patients. Results indicated that only 11% routinely screened patients for high-risk behaviors. While most physicians had received training in human sexuality, most had not received training in substance abuse screening. Those trained felt more confident in addressing substance abuse and human sexuality and felt more comfortable in caring for patients known to be infected with human immunodeficiency virus. A concerted effort to encourage human immunodeficiency virus risk assessment by physicians is needed. This should include training opportunities in screening and counseling patients about sexual activities and substance abuse.

(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:561-564)