|Home | About | Journals | Submit | Contact Us | Français|
In mid-1988 a postal survey was conducted of one in five general practitioners in England and Wales, to examine their contact with people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or with worries about HIV infection or AIDS. The response rate was 63.9%. Of the 3339 respondents 22.7% knew of an asymptomatic HIV positive patient within their practice, 5.4% knew of a symptomatic HIV positive patient and 6.4% knew of a patient with AIDS. The estimated annual rate for HIV-related consultations in general practice (including consultations with the 'worried well') was 6.5 per 1000 population. HIV-related consultations occurred more frequently in the four Thames health regions than elsewhere. A sample of 715 practitioners who reported consultations with HIV infected people or those with worries about infection in the previous month, were invited to keep a diary of HIV-related consultations for one week. The response rate to the diary was 64%. Nineteen per cent of the 273 consultations recorded in the diaries were initiated by homosexual men, 16.5% by injecting drug users, 10.3% by the sexual partners of people at risk of infection; 42.9% of consultations were not associated with recognized risk factors. The results indicate that general practitioners have substantial contact with patients with HIV infection, with AIDS and with worries about HIV infection or AIDS. This contact is likely to increase, alongside the anticipated spread of HIV infection, with consequent implications for general practice resources.