Public Health and Primary CareORIGINAL ARTICLE

Survey of Attitudes and Practices of Osteopathic Primary Care Physicians Regarding Taking of Sexual Histories and HIV Screening

Preetam Gongidi, OMS IV, MHS; James J. Sierakowski, OMS IV; G. Stephen Bowen, MD, MPH; Robin J. Jacobs, PhD; and M. Isabel Fernandez, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: June 17, 2009

Accepted: May 12, 2010

Published: December 1, 2010

J Osteopath Med; 110(12): 712-720

Context: An estimated 252,000 to 312,000 individuals have undiagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the United States. To date, little has been known about osteopathic physicians’ attitudes and practices regarding routine HIV testing.

Objectives: To understand osteopathic primary care physicians’ attitudes and practices toward HIV testing and sexual history taking and to examine factors associated with osteopathic physicians’ recommendations of HIV testing at the initial patient visit.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of osteopathic physicians was conducted at the 106th Annual Convention of the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association in February 2009. Survey participants were asked 36 questions about osteopathic physician and patient sociodemographic factors and osteopathic physician attitudes and office practices regarding HIV testing and sexual history taking.

Results: A total of 233 osteopathic physicians completed the survey, but only 160 respondents (69%) met inclusion criteria of working in primary care and spending more than 50% of their time with patients. Almost two-thirds of participants were men, 80% were white, and the age range was 28 to 83 years. Twenty-two percent of participants recommended HIV testing at the initial patient visit, and 18% recommended annual HIV testing for all patients. Eighty-seven percent obtained a separate consent form for HIV testing, and 19% included HIV testing in general consent forms. About two-thirds of participants recommended annual HIV testing for homosexual men. Three factors were associated with recommending HIV testing at the initial patient visit: (1) recommending an annual HIV test for sexually active patients (odds ratio [OR], 12.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.97-41.67); (2) having an agree/strongly agree attitude toward HIV testing (OR, 5.59; 95% CI, 1.63-19.23); and (3) obtaining a general consent form that included permission for HIV testing (OR, 3.25; 95% CI, 1.07-9.90).

Conclusions: Osteopathic physicians who practice primary care medicine can play a crucial role in reducing the number of individuals with undiagnosed HIV infection. More concerted efforts are needed to help osteopathic physicians incorporate HIV testing as part of routine care for all patients.

Read Full Article