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Stigma Remains a Significant Barrier to Routine HIV Testing by African-American Physicians, Survey Finds

Mon, 08/01/2011 - 8:42am
Bio-Medicine.Org

TITUSVILLE, N.J., Aug. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Social stigma is the largest barrier to routine HIV testing by African-American frontline care physicians, according to a survey commissioned by Janssen Therapeutics, Division of Janssen Products, LP, in collaboration with the National Medical Association (NMA).(1) Despite the belief by most physicians surveyed (93 percent) that HIV is either very serious or a crisis in the African-American community, findings suggested that only one-third of all patients in these physicians' practices were tested within the past year.

In the United States, the number of people living with HIV infection is higher than ever before, and African Americans account for almost half of all new HIV infections. African Americans also comprise a higher proportion of new cases compared with members of other races and ethnicities.(2) Since September 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that diagnostic HIV testing and optional HIV screening be a part of routine clinical care in all healthcare settings.(3)

"The survey findings tell us that despite HIV education efforts, the stigma surrounding the disease is still very strong and is a significant barrier to routine testing among African-American doctors," said Wilbert C. Jordan, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the OASIS Clinic of King/Drew Medical Center and member of the NMA. "With African Americans more likely to contract HIV than any other ethnic group, this is particularly concerning as the study uncovered that most patients decide to get tested based on their physician's recommendation. It's crucial that we educate doctors and patients by providing the resources they need to make HIV testing a routine practice."

Social Stigma is the Main Barrier to Recommending Testing

The survey found that three of the top five barriers to routine testing cited by African-American physicians relate to social stigma. Specifically, physician

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