Care of Vaginal Symptoms Among HIV-infected Women

Published in: Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, v. 25, no. 1, Sep. 1, 2000, p. 51-55

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2000

by Michael Stein, William Cunningham, Terry T Nakazono, Steven M. Asch, Barbara J. Turner, Stephen Crystal, Ronald Andersen, Sally Zierler, Samuel A. Bozzette, Martin F. Shapiro

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OBJECTIVE: Gynecologic disease is common in HIV-infected women. The authors examine the sociodemographic, clinical, and provider factors associated with the care of women with vaginal symptoms. METHODS: Women enrolled in the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study (HCSUS), a nationally representative probability sample of HIV-infected adults, were interviewed between January 1996 and April 1997. Women with vaginal symptoms who sought medical attention were asked, Did your health care provider examine your vaginal area? Women were also asked if they received medication for their symptoms. RESULTS: Among 154 women with vaginal symptoms, 127 sought care for their symptoms. Of those who sought care, 48% saw a gynecologist and 52% sought care from nongynecologists, most often their usual HIV care provider. Women who saw a gynecologist for their symptoms were more likely to have received a pelvic examination (92% versus 76%; p =.06) and vaginal fluid collection (98% versus 88%; p =.06) than those who saw their regular HIV provider. Fifteen percent of women received medication for their symptoms without having a pelvic examination; gynecologists were less likely to prescribe without an examination (8% versus 21%; p =.12). CONCLUSION: Gynecologists are more likely to provide adequate care of vaginal symptoms among HIV-infected women than nongynecologists who were HIV care providers. This specialty difference is consistent with quality of care studies for other medical conditions, but the potential gynecologic complications of inadequate evaluation and treatment warrants further investigation.

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