It is encouraged to give a brief counseling session or provide information to patients who tested positive for HIV. This is done in hopes that it would help to reduce sexually transmitted infections or STI in the future. The goal is to provide practical risk reduction information and reasonable precautionary steps to take at HIV testing. With the number of HIV infections holding steady, counseling seemed a logical way to help curb the numbers. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of such counseling and education, a study was conducted. The results were both surprising and disappointing.

Over a million persons in the USA are infected with HIV. The number of those infected per year has not reduced much at all. To complicate matters more, it is estimated that nearly one in five HIV patients is undiagnosed. Therefore, the recommendation was made that patients with ages ranging from teenager to retiree should be tested. Along with the scanning for HIV, a brief counseling session would be given in hopes of preventing further spread of both HIV infection and STI.

With costs on the rise, a study was conducted to see whether the counseling was effective. One study followed over 5.000 patients from nine STI clinics across the country. The patients were each given the recommended session of counseling and then followed up with after six months. Researchers noted that there was nearly no change in participants. Those who received counseling versus those who simply received information came up with nearly identical results.

While it has long been believed that counseling to help reduce transmission risk and behavior is important, this recent study may prove otherwise. Funding to programs for education and counseling is expensive and experts are now wondering if money would be better spent on another approach.