An American Medical Association committee recently recommended that physicians routinely screen patients for behaviors that put patients at risk for human immunodeficiency virus infection, yet there is evidence that this screening does not occur routinely. Faculty, fellows, and residents at a teaching hospital in a midwestern state with a low prevalence of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome were surveyed regarding their experience in screening for human immunodeficiency virus, their training related to substance abuse and human sexuality, and their confidence and ease in addressing such topics with their patients. Results indicated that only 11% routinely screened patients for high-risk behaviors. While most physicians had received training in human sexuality, most had not received training in substance abuse screening. Those trained felt more confident in addressing substance abuse and human sexuality and felt more comfortable in caring for patients known to be infected with human immunodeficiency virus. A concerted effort to encourage human immunodeficiency virus risk assessment by physicians is needed. This should include training opportunities in screening and counseling patients about sexual activities and substance abuse.
(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:561-564)