Australia: Drug Users, Homosexuals Get Raw Deal on STI Treatment
November 14, 2007
In a recently published survey of 409 general practitioners in New South Wales, 72 percent reported feeling completely comfortable treating heterosexual or young patients for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But just 40 percent feel comfortable treating STIs in sex workers, gays or lesbians, indigenous Australians or injection drug users.
The results concern investigators, since doctors who feel discomfort are less likely to provide patients with adequate STI care, including prevention advice or informational pamphlets, survey data show. In Australia, HIV, chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea continue to heavily affect minorities and, particularly, gay men.
"We'd been concerned that doctors didn't feel as comfortable with sexual health practices and interventions among these groups," said Ian Rankin, president of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations. "A person's indigenous status, drug use habits or homosexuality shouldn't impact on the caliber of care and the basic humanity that goes on in a general practice consultation," said Rankin, who was not involved in the study.
The study authors said simple educational interventions could help improve physicians' comfort with patient STI care.
The full report, "Does Physician Bias Affect the Quality of Care They Deliver? Evidence in the Care of STI," was published online ahead of print in Sexually Transmitted Infections (2007; doi:10.1136/sti.2007.028050).
Australian Associated Press
11.07.2007; Tamara McLean
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.