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HIV Tests Offered to Los Angeles Hispanics Insufficient: Study

A new study has found that the primary care providers who treat Hispanics of Los Angeles County often fail to offer either HIV testing or safer sex advice to them//. Of late the number of HIV infected people among the Hispanics has risen considerably.

The study, published in the March issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association, found that only 41 percent of these primary care providers (PCPs) — including doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants — surveyed between March and June 2004 had regularly offered advice about sexually transmitted infection or safe sex to patients during the prior six months. Only 36 percent had offered more than 20 HIV tests during the same period, despite a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control in 2001 that physicians in high HIV–prevalence areas routinely offer HIV testing to their patients.

“What this study shows is that despite the number of new AIDS cases increasing among Hispanics in Los Angeles County, the primary care providers do not appear to be increasing their offering of HIV testing to the patients,” said Dr. Rosa Solorio, assistant professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a co-author of the study.

The providers served in primarily Hispanic communities, and 57 percent reported that they spoke Spanish with the majority of their patients.

Statistics from the Los Angeles County Department of Health show that between 1992 and 2004, the percentage of new AIDS cases among the Hispanic population rose steadily each year, making Hispanics the group with the highest proportion of new AIDS cases in the county.

The study was conducted by Dr. Mitchell Kushner as part of his master’s thesis at the UCLA School of Public Health. Solorio, who is also a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute, served as Kushner’s thesis advisor. Kushner is now the county Department of Health’s medical director for Service Planning
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