oa South African Family Practice - Barriers to HIV care and treatment by doctors : a review of the literature : review article
This paper provides a review of the reported barriers that prevent doctors from managing HIV infected patients. The four most commonly reported barriers were: fear of contagion, fear of losing patients, unwillingness to care, and inadequate knowledge /training about treating HIV patients. Barriers to treating HIV infected patients is frequently reported in many countries and it is important for developing countries such as South Africa to learn from these experiences by identifying local problems so that constructive interventions and strategies can be developed to address these barriers, thereby improving the quality of patient care. Further research in respect of the local situation is required. <br><I>Introduction: </I> Over the last two decades acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has emerged as one of the most serious public health problems in the world, and by the end of 2003 it was estimated that 5.3 million South Africans were human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive, which corresponds to 21.5% of the population.1 In the early phase of the HIV epidemic few doctors saw infected patients and treatment options were limited. As a result many doctors were reluctant to provide care to HIV infected patients and homophobia amongst doctors, fear of contact with patients and unwillingness to care were frequently reported.2 However, there has been an exponential increase in the number of HIV and AIDS related cases and more doctors are encountering infected individuals. This review summarizes our current knowledge of barriers to treatment of HIV infected patients by doctors. <br><I>Method</I> A comprehensive literature review was undertaken by searching the MEDLINE database, Psychlit, ISI Web, EBSCOHost, and Sabinet on line, for English language literature published between 1985 and 2004. The database search terms included keywords such as fear/s, barrier/s, concern, HIV, AIDS, attitudes, physician/s (doctor/s), practice, treatment, care and knowledge. A variety of combinations of these words were entered. All duplicate articles were removed and only studies that used doctors as the sample population were considered. Titles expressing comment, news items, opinion pieces or letters were rejected. <br><I>Results</I> Thirty two relevant studies were identified from the literature search. The four most commonly reported barriers were: fear of contagion, fear of losing patients, unwillingness to care, and inadequate knowledge /training about treating HIV patients.
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