Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do doctors check for HIV before surgery?"
Is it standard for doctors to test a patient for HIV at the same time as performing surgery? I had my appendix removed a month ago and the procedure went fine. If they did the test, I must have come back negative because they haven't contacted me, right?
For routine surgery, it is not common to test for HIV status, or other communicable diseases. Preoperative blood tests usually check to make sure that your blood counts and electrolyte counts are within normal limits and that your blood clotting is also within normal limits. Because all surgery is performed under what are called "Universal Precautions" your HIV status is not a factor effecting your preoperative status. Universal precautions include wearing sterile gloves and gowns during procedures, face shields, and hair covering. These precautions keep the surgeon and patient safe from being exposed to communicable diseases. If you have a concern about being infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, it is recommended that you see your primary care physician to receive testing for these diseases. If you are found to have a sexually transmitted disease, it is important to alert any recent sexual partners as they are at risk for also having the sexually transmitted disease. Again, your primary care physician will be best able to evaluate your clinical history and presenting symptoms and decide what further work up is warranted. Although they have not contacted you regarding your HIV status after your surgery, again, it does not mean you do or do not have HIV and so if you have concerns about your HIV status, you should be evaluated by your primary care doctor.
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