•  
  •  
 

Abstract

This article assesses the performance of currently used tests for exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the infectious agent associated with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); suggests, in view of that information, guidelines for counseling people seeking HIV antibody testing; and evaluates the claim that because antibody test results will effect behavior change in those who are infected, all members of high-risk groups should be tested.

HIV testing is likely to yield a high proportion of false-positive results in low-risk populations and infants born to infected mothers. A negative result may not establish freedom from infection in high-risk groups or the offspring of infected mothers. Counseling should relate these generalizations to a client 's motivation for and expectations from testing. In evaluating a client's risk of exposure, past and present, counseling should provide both information about and reinforcement for behavioral risk reduction.

The assertion that members of high-risk groups ought to learn their antibody status is questioned in view of concerns about test performance and even more serious questions about the psychological impact of test results — both short- and long-term — on people's adaptation to protective sex and modification of drug use patterns.

 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.