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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


MASSIAH, Ernest et al. Stigma, discrimination, and HIV/AIDS knowledge among physicians in Barbados. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.16, n.6, pp.295-401. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the extent of clinical knowledge of HIV/AIDS that physicians in Barbados have and their attitudes towards persons living with HIV/AIDS. METHODS: In 2000 the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners conducted a survey in order to assess its members' views on HIV/AIDS issues. Over a two-month period 203 physicians (76% of all those practicing in the country) were interviewed. The survey included physicians working in private practice and the public sector. They were surveyed individually concerning their attitudes towards counseling as well as their clinical knowledge, perception of safe practices, fear of occupational exposure, views on ethical issues, experience treating HIV/AIDS patients, and background with HIV/AIDS continuing education. RESULTS: In comparison to physicians who had graduated in later years, physicians who had graduated in 1984 or earlier had seen fewer HIV/AIDS clients, had lower levels of knowledge about the disease, were more likely to test for HIV/AIDS without informed consent, and were less likely to have ever attended a continuing education training course on HIV/AIDS. Overall, knowledge of the clinical indications of HIV/AIDS was low, and 76% of the physicians did not think they had adequate counseling skills. Over 80% of the physicians were comfortable looking after HIV/AIDS patients. While 95% of the physicians would not release HIV test results without a patient's consent, 33% would test, without consent, a seriously ill patient, and 15% would test without consent a patient upon whom they had to perform an invasive procedure if they perceived the patient to be from a high-risk population such as gay men or commercial sex workers. Only 53% of the physicians had attended an HIV/AIDS in-service training program between 1995 and 1999. CONCLUSION: Physician training in Barbados should focus on all aspects of HIV/AIDS care, including clinical and emotional factors. Attendance at such training should be mandatory for public sector physicians, and medical school curricula need to be examined to ensure their HIV/AIDS content is current and comprehensive.

Keywords : Attitude of health personnel; HIV infections; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; education; medical; inservice training; prejudice; Barbados.

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