Objectives Prior research has shown that Dutch general practitioners (GPs) do not always offer HIV testing and the number of undiagnosed HIV patients remains high. We aimed to further investigate the frequency and reasons for (not) testing for HIV and the contribution of GPs to the diagnosis of HIV infections in the Netherlands.
Design Observational study.
Setting (1) Dutch primary care network of 42–45 sentinel practices where report forms during sexually transmitted infection (STI)-related consultations were routinely collected, 2008–2013. (2) Dutch observational cohort with medical data of HIV-positive patients in HIV care, 2008–2013.
Outcome measures The proportion of STI-related consultations in patients from high-risk groups tested for HIV, with additional information requested from GPs on HIV testing preconsultation or postconsultation for whom HIV testing was indicated, but not performed. Next, information was collected on the profile of HIV-positive patients entering specialised HIV care following diagnosis by GPs.
Results Initially, an HIV test was reported (360/907) in 40% of STI-related consultations in high-risk groups. Additionally, in 26% of consultations an HIV test had been performed in previous or follow-up consultations or at different STI-care facilities. The main reasons for not testing were perceived insignificant risk; ‘too’ recent risk according to GPs or the reluctance of patients. The initiative of the patient was a strong determinant for HIV testing. GPs diagnosed about one third of all newly found cases of HIV. Compared with STI clinics, HIV-positive patients diagnosed in general practice were more likely to be older, female, heterosexual male or sub-Saharan African.
Conclusions In one-third of the STI-related consultations of persons from high-risk groups, no HIV test was performed in primary care, which is lower than previously reported. Risk-based testing has intrinsic limitations and implementation of new additional strategies in primary care is warranted.
- INFECTIOUS DISEASES
- PUBLIC HEALTH
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