Physician barriers to successful implementation of US Preventive Services Task Force routine HIV testing recommendations

J Int Assoc Provid AIDS Care. 2014 May-Jun;13(3):200-5. doi: 10.1177/2325957413514276. Epub 2014 Jan 17.


In 2006, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued recommendations supporting routine HIV testing in health care settings for all persons aged 13 to 64 years. Despite these recommendations, physicians are not offering HIV testing routinely. We apply a model that has previously identified 3 central, inter-related factors (knowledge-, attitude-, and behavior-related barriers) for why physicians do not follow practice guidelines in order to better understand why physicians are not offering HIV testing routinely. This model frames our review of the existing literature on physician barriers to routine HIV testing. Within the model, knowledge barriers include lack of familiarity or awareness of clinical recommendations, attitude barriers include lack of agreement with guidelines, while behavioral barriers include external barriers related to the guidelines themselves, to patients, or to environmental factors. Our review reveals that many physicians face these barriers with regards to implementing routine HIV testing. Several factors underscore the importance of determining how to best address physician barriers to HIV testing, including: provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are likely to require or incentivize major payers to cover HIV testing, evidence which suggests that a physician's recommendation to test for HIV is a strong predictor of patient testing behavior, and data which reveals that nearly 20% of HIV-positive individuals may be unaware of their status. In April 2013, the US Preventive Services Task Force released a recommendation supporting routine HIV testing; strategies are needed to help address ongoing physician barriers to testing.

Keywords: CDC; HIV testing; USPSTF; guidelines; physician.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Primary Health Care
  • United States