Background The science of HIV prevention and treatment is evolving rapidly, resulting in renewed calls to increase rates of HIV testing and, in particular, facilitate the timely and possibly earlier initiation of treatment, as this has the potential to dramatically reduce new infections. Little is known about how to engage nonHIV specialist Australian general practitioners (GPs) with these new priorities. Methods: Content related to the engagement of nonHIV specialist GPs in the HIV response was identified within the transcripts of in-depth interviews with policy key informants (n≤24) and general practice clinicians (n≤47) engaged with HIV medicine. A qualitative analysis of the semantic meaning of this content identified three categories of 'issues' described by participants. Results: Educational issues referred to a lack of attention to HIV in medical curricula, a perception that HIV care is only provided by HIV-specialist GPs, a need to make HIV testing more 'routine' in GP education and a need to strengthen GP awareness of referral options. Organisational issues encompassed time pressures in general practice, and a need for general practice nurses and for rapid testing to become available, as well as formalised peer mentoring and comanagement opportunities. Societal issues included the changing dynamics of HIV transmission and a need to reconnect GPs with the Australian HIV response. Conclusions: To successfully engage nonHIV specialist GPs in the promotion of regular HIV testing and timely initiation of treatment, challenging issues affecting their capacity and willingness must be urgently addressed.