Is Anybody Talking to Physicians about Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and Sex?
A National Survey of Patients
Barbara Gerbert, PhD;
Thomas Bleecker, PhD;
Jane Bernzweig, PhD
Arch Fam Med. 1993;2(1):45-51.
We wanted to know what proportion of the US population had spoken with a physician about sex and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In particular, we wanted to know whether patients who were at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), had had such discussions.
A telephone survey of a US nationwide random probability sample of adults was conducted in the summer of 1991.
The survey was completed by 1350 adults; of these, 1312 were patients, defined as those who reported that they had been to a physician within the last 5 years.
Main Outcome Measure
We assessed whether patients reported having had discussions about sex and AIDS with physicians.
Only 259 (20%) of patients in our survey reported that they had talked with a physician about AIDS. Fifty-five (21%) of those who had talked with a physician about AIDS reported that the physician started the discussion. Few patients reported that they had spoken with a physician even when it appeared vital that they do so: 46 (26%) of those who reported that their chances of getting the AIDS virus were "high" or "medium" and 25 (23%) of those who reported being at behavioral risk for AIDS had spoken to a physician about AIDS.
Few patients reported having discussed sex and AIDS with a physician, even if the patients considered themselves to be at risk for contracting HIV or another sexually transmitted disease. More of these discussions must take place to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS and to facilitate testing and early treatment of HIV-infected individuals.
From the School of Dentistry and the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS), University of California, San Francisco.
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