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U.S. News

Washington, D.C., Officials Quiz Doctors About HIV/AIDS

November 24, 2010

Private-practice doctors in Washington soon will be undergoing a test themselves -- city officials are quizzing them on how much they know about HIV/AIDS.

"We suspect there are gaps in doctors' understanding of testing guidelines that have changed considerably, and we really hope to understand where they are so we can address any gaps," said John Newsome, spokesperson for the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, which is partnering with the city on the project.

Between Nov. 17 and Dec. 3, the city's 4,000 private doctors are being asked to complete a 15-item e-mail survey on the local epidemiology of HIV/AIDS and current recommendations on HIV testing. Survey organizers are particularly interested in assessing the physicians' knowledge of the scope of the epidemic and local recommendations on testing.

Surveillance data indicate that the District of Columbia has an HIV prevalence of 3 percent, placing it among the US metropolitan statistical areas with the highest rates of infection. While HIV/AIDS often is mistakenly considered a threat only to young people, city officials want to call attention to the growing number of diagnoses among residents in their 40s and 50s.

The city also wants to impress upon physicians that, since 2006, the city health department has called for annual HIV testing for all District residents ages 13 to 84.

"If you're a D.C. resident and you're sexually active, you are in a high-risk network called Washington, D.C.," Newsome said.

Local studies from 2008 and 2009 indicated that 75 percent of newly diagnosed HIV-positive persons had been to at least one medical provider within the previous 12 months. Such statistics suggest that private physicians can become effective allies in the campaign to increase voluntary HIV testing, officials say.

Back to other news for November 2010

Adapted from:
Washington Post
11.17.2010; Lena H. Sun

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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.
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