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Despite accounting for nearly half of all new HIV infections last year, a new study by Janssen Therapeutics and the National Medical Association found that overall Black physicians recommended that only a third of their patients got tested for the disease last year.

So what’s stopping Black doctors from talking to their patients about HIV? The social stigma attached to the disease.

Apparently, physicians are worried their patients may view a suggestion to get tested as accusatory or judgmental. Moreover, doctors are concerned their patients “would not want to be identified as HIV positive and would worry about people finding out; and would be offended due to the stigma associated with HIV.” Another barrier to testing is the lack of time patients spend with their physicians.

The results of the survey are alarming, not only because African-Americans are being infected at higher rates than their White counterparts, but also because many patients, approximately 70%, get tested for the virus because their doctor suggested it.

“The survey findings tell us that despite HIV education efforts, the stigma surrounding the disease is still very strong and is a significant barrier to routine testing among African-American doctors,” said Wilbert C. Jordan, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the OASIS Clinic of King/Drew Medical Center and member of the NMA

The study indicates a need for patients AND doctors to be educated on how to discuss prevention of the virus.

Dr. Jordan continued:

“With African Americans more likely to contract HIV than any other ethnic group, this is particularly concerning as the study uncovered that most patients decide to get tested based on their physician’s recommendation. It’s crucial that we educate doctors and patients by providing the resources they need to make HIV testing a routine practice.”

With African-American getting infected with HIV at alarming rates, doctors can’t let their patients go untested just so they won’t offend them. I’m sure many would rather walk around with hurt feelings instead of an HIV diagnosis.

 

Has your doctor suggested you get tested for HIV? If not, find free resources to get tested here

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  • dragonlady73

    I have never had a doctor suggest it. Honestly, why should they? You know that you are sexually active and should test. They are not to be held for that. I always ask for the full run of EVERYTHING when I have my annual physical. I trell them to check for cancer, STDS, everything. Since my insurance is paying 100% may as well have them get it all done. I think the thing is that so many people don’t want to get tested because we are afraid to find out. With this whole sexual liberation, which to many means freak whomever, whereever, however because it’s yours and you should be proud to use it, there is a LOT more exposure. Because people have lessened the value of intimacy and feel like they shouldn’t bind themselves to one person. The doctors are aware of this so, they don’t want to offend anyone or potentially get sued for discrimination. It is our responsibility to request the test.

    • Jess

      I agree with you in that we should all take personal responsibility and ask for the STD screenings, however people need to know that regular screenings should not just be for single, sexually active people. So many couples are lulled in to a false sense of security in long term monogamous relationships and marriages. Yet we all know that people are often unfaithful, or simply unaware. Regular HIV testing and all STD screenings should be a regular (at least annually) part of personal healthcare for everyone. I can not tell you how many friends I have whose husbands cheated and bought home the life long “gifts” of Herpes, Syphilis, and HIV. I’m not trying to be sexist here, I’m sure that women step out and bring crap home as well. My point is that we all need to be proactive in our healthcare, regardless of whether we are in relationships or not. Get Tested.

  • dvine

    how bout they should suggest testing every 6mos or once a year or more often if you are engaging in risky sexual behavior.. it shouldn’t take a doc to refer to to get the test done.. you should be telling your doc you want it done..