Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

HIV infection: increase in public awareness and anxiety.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 18 July 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:193
  1. C Sonnex,
  2. A Petherick,
  3. M W Adler,
  4. D Miller
  1. Academic Department of Genitourinary Medicine, Middlesex Hospital Medical School, London.


    Between the end of September and mid-November 1986 the number of patients who requested antibody testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at this department increased by over 300%. This increase followed a media campaign that emphasised the potential heterosexual spread of HIV. After pretest counselling roughly one quarter of the women and of the heterosexual men decided not to be tested. The reason given most often by women for testing was previous sexual intercourse with bisexual or possibly bisexual men. Heterosexual men were most often concerned about previous casual encounters or contact with prostitutes. Of the 641 tests for HIV antibody performed during the last three months of 1986, 37 (5-8%) were positive. Because an increasing number of patients are attending sexually transmitted diseases clinics for HIV antibody testing staffing levels in these clinics need to be reappraised now.