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Florida Public Health Review

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Abstract

Previous studies have shown suboptimal compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for HIV testing in patients with sexually-transmitted disease (STDs). However, the literature is especially sparse with respect to family physicians and gynecologists in private practice. Further, there are no data regarding knowledge among these physicians of the causative relationship between STDs and HIV. All family physicians (238) and gynecologists (131) in private practice in Broward County, Florida were anonymously surveyed for their knowledge of the connection between STDs and HIV and to determine if they translated this into practice. Responses from 57 family physicians and 21 gynecologists were analyzed. Overall, gynecologists showed a greater awareness of the STD-HIV connection (81% vs. 54%, P=0.03), but not in their frequency of testing for HIV. Among physicians in both groups who stated that they “always test” for HIV in patients with STDs, a strong correlation was found between awareness of the STD-HIV connection and testing for HIV (P<0.001). Physicians that only “sometimes test” showed a lesser degree of awareness of this connection and tested less frequently for HIV in patients with seven specific STDs. However, even physicians who claimed to “always test” did not consistently test for HIV with all of these seven STDs. This lack of consistency was especially true for family physicians. Many family physicians and gynecologists in private practice are unaware that STDs facilitate the transmission of HIV and/or do not translate this knowledge into practice.

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