Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice Observed

Are general practitioners ready to prevent the spread of HIV?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 20 February 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:533
  1. R I G Milne,
  2. S M Keen


    General practitioners are excellently placed to assess a person's risk of being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and to give advice on reducing that risk. Their attitudes to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and infection with HIV are, however, unknown. A questionnaire survey of 196 general practitioners in East Berkshire Health District was used to assess general practitioners' readiness to undertake opportunistic health education to prevent the spread of infection with HIV. Altogether 132 replied. Sixty four of them expressed little interest in health education about HIV, and one in six would not dissent from the notion that AIDS could be controlled only by criminalising homosexuality. Only 75 of them had initiated discussions about HIV with patients. Moreover, many underestimated the risks from heterosexual sex while exaggerating the risks from non-sexual contact.

    Advice from general practitioners if given extensively might reduce the spread of infection with HIV. How best this may be achieved needs to be considered urgently.