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Am J Public Health. 1991 Dec;81(12):1645-8.

Frequency and thoroughness of STD/HIV risk assessment by physicians in a high-risk metropolitan area.

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  • 1Georgetown University School of Medicine, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Washington, DC 20007.


The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all primary care physicians assess the sexually transmitted disease/human immunodeficiency virus (STD/HIV) risk of all adolescent and adult patients. To determine whether factors amenable to change through continuing medical education are associated with frequent and thorough STD/HIV risk assessment, a telephone survey of primary care physicians in the Washington, DC metropolitan area was conducted (n = 961). Thirty-seven percent of physicians reported regularly asking new adult patients about their sexual practices; 60% asked new adolescent patients. STD/HIV risk questioning was associated with physicians' confidence in their ability to help prevent HIV, comfort with discussing patients' sexual practices, and perception of a large STD/HIV problem in their practice. These findings suggest that continuing medical education should target improvement in physicians' sexual practice questioning skills.

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