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A survey of Tennessee veterinarian and physician attitudes, knowledge, and practices regarding zoonoses prevention among animal owners with HIV infection or AIDS

William Allen HillOffice of Laboratory Animal Care, Institute of Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, Institute of Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

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 DVM, MPH, DACLAM
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Gregory C. PettyDepartment of Public Health, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

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Paul C. ErwinDepartment of Public Health, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

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Marcy J. SouzaDepartment of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, Institute of Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

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Abstract

Objective—To examine the attitudes, knowledge, and practices of Tennessee veterinarians and physicians engaged in clinical practice regarding the risk for and prevention of zoonoses in people with HIV infection or AIDS.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Sample—Licensed Tennessee veterinarians and physicians engaged in clinical practice.

Procedures—A survey was mailed in January 2010 to 454 licensed veterinarians and 1,737 licensed physicians.

Results—181 of 419 (43.20%) eligible veterinarians and 201 of 1,376 (14.61%) eligible physicians responded to the survey. A majority of both veterinarians (131/179 [73.18%]) and physicians (97/192 [50.52%]) indicated that veterinarians should always or almost always be involved in advising clients with HIV infection or AIDS. The majority of veterinarians (120/173 [69.36%]) indicated they always or almost always discussed with clients the potential risk to immune-compromised persons after diagnosing a zoonosis. A high proportion (88/94 [93.62%]) of physicians indicated they never or rarely initiated discussions about zoonoses with patients with HIV infection or AIDS. All physicians (94/94 [100%]) indicated they never or rarely contacted veterinarians for advice on zoonoses. Similarly, 174 of 180 (96.76%) veterinarians had never or rarely contacted physicians for advice on zoonoses risks. Only 25.97% of veterinarians and 33.33% of physicians were correctly able to identify zoonotic pathogens of greatest concern to people with HIV infection or AIDS.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—We identified several implications for veterinary medical and medical practice that may reduce zoonoses transmission risks for people with HIV infection or AIDS, including increased communication between veterinarians and physicians, increased communication between people with HIV infection or AIDS and health-care providers, increased availability of client educational materials, and increased participation in zoonoses continuing education opportunities by health-care providers.

Abstract

Objective—To examine the attitudes, knowledge, and practices of Tennessee veterinarians and physicians engaged in clinical practice regarding the risk for and prevention of zoonoses in people with HIV infection or AIDS.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Sample—Licensed Tennessee veterinarians and physicians engaged in clinical practice.

Procedures—A survey was mailed in January 2010 to 454 licensed veterinarians and 1,737 licensed physicians.

Results—181 of 419 (43.20%) eligible veterinarians and 201 of 1,376 (14.61%) eligible physicians responded to the survey. A majority of both veterinarians (131/179 [73.18%]) and physicians (97/192 [50.52%]) indicated that veterinarians should always or almost always be involved in advising clients with HIV infection or AIDS. The majority of veterinarians (120/173 [69.36%]) indicated they always or almost always discussed with clients the potential risk to immune-compromised persons after diagnosing a zoonosis. A high proportion (88/94 [93.62%]) of physicians indicated they never or rarely initiated discussions about zoonoses with patients with HIV infection or AIDS. All physicians (94/94 [100%]) indicated they never or rarely contacted veterinarians for advice on zoonoses. Similarly, 174 of 180 (96.76%) veterinarians had never or rarely contacted physicians for advice on zoonoses risks. Only 25.97% of veterinarians and 33.33% of physicians were correctly able to identify zoonotic pathogens of greatest concern to people with HIV infection or AIDS.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—We identified several implications for veterinary medical and medical practice that may reduce zoonoses transmission risks for people with HIV infection or AIDS, including increased communication between veterinarians and physicians, increased communication between people with HIV infection or AIDS and health-care providers, increased availability of client educational materials, and increased participation in zoonoses continuing education opportunities by health-care providers.

Contributor Notes

This manuscript represents a portion of an essay submitted by Dr. Hill to the University of Tennessee Department of Public Health as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Public Health degree.

Supported by the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

Address correspondence to Dr. Hill (wahill@utk.edu).