BOSTON – Physician assistants’ knowledge of and compliance with the CDC’s routine universal HIV screening guidelines varies by specialty, according to researchers.

“In order for health-care providers to assist in preventive efforts and provide appropriate care to those living with HIV, it is imperative to increase PAs understanding of HIV testing and guidelines provided by the CDC,” said Mary E. Springston MSEd, PA-C, during a poster session at the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2014 IMPACT meeting.

Researchers administered a survey to 83 PAs who attended the 2013 New York State Physician Assistant Conference to assess PA knowledge of and compliance with CDC HIV recommendations.  

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Overall, 36% PAs said they routinely recommended HIV screening for patients aged 13 to 64 years in accordance with the guidelines. In that group, 86% indicated they understood the CDC standards about HIV testing.

Among the remaining 64% who did not comply with the guidelines, 59% indicated they understood the CDC’s HIV testing recommendations. Compliance was lowest in cardiology (9%), orthopedic (36%), and surgical (20%) specialties.

Non-compliant respondents cited a lack of time, that HIV testing isn’t part of their clinical practice and language barriers between patients. More than 50% of participants stated that nothing prevents them from administering HIV tests.

“These findings should encourage the health care community to decide where facilities could make adjustments in order to comply with the recommended guidelines,” concluded the researchers. “In future research, it would be beneficial to determine what is limiting specialty practices from following the CDC guidelines.”


  1. Springston M et al. #104. “Physician Assistants’ Knowledge About and Compliance with the 2006 CDC HIV Recommendations.” Poster presented at: AAPA Meeting. Boston; May 23-28.