An anonymous postal questionnaire survey studying the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection was conducted among all registered medical and dental practitioners in Singapore in 1996. In all, 1523 replies were received, yielding a response rate of 29.3%. The level of knowledge regarding transmission and prevention was generally good, although there were a number who believed that HIV could be transmitted by the respiratory and oral routes. However, knowledge regarding diagnosis and medical management was unsatisfactory. Although a large majority felt they had the ethical obligation to treat HIV patients, only half of them indicated their willingness to do so if they were given the choice. The majority (62.3%) supported the idea of routine preoperative HIV testing for patients, but fewer (40%) supported mandatory HIV testing for health care workers. Dentists seemed more sensitive to issues involving transmission in the workplace, and 95% of them practised universal precautions. Continuing medical education on HIV infection is required to improve and maintain the level of knowledge and competency of doctors and dentists in Singapore.
PIP: In September 1996, a questionnaire covering HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices was mailed to all 5248 registered medical and dental practitioners in Singapore. 1523 replies (29.3%) were received. Although a number of respondents believed HIV could be transmitted by the orofecal and respiratory routes (21% and 12.5%, respectively) and 22.1% did not know latex condoms are an effective preventive method, overall knowledge of prevention and transmission was good. Knowledge regarding diagnosis and medical management of HIV-infected patients was unsatisfactory, however. Only 57.5% were aware of the availability of anonymous HIV testing in Singapore, the CD4 count was correctly identified as the most useful diagnostic measure by just 46%, and only 24.3% could list all the anti-HIV medications used in Singapore. 82.9% believed medical professionals have an ethical obligation to treat people with AIDS, but only 61.5% were willing to do so. 81.3% supported mandatory HIV testing of high-risk groups and 62.3% were in favor of routine preoperative HIV testing without the patient's consent. 30.6% of respondents had ever treated an HIV-positive patient and 71.8% reported use of universal precautions with all patients. These findings indicate a need for continuing medical education on HIV infection to improve the level of knowledge of physicians and dentists in Singapore and to impart clear guidelines on the need to obtain consent before an HIV test is administered.