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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 1999 Sep;13(9):545-53.

Talking about AIDS.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Highland Hospital Primary Care Institute, New York, USA.


Despite increased public and professional awareness, patients and physicians tend to avoid discussions about HIV. Empiric studies of patient-physician communication point to specific common communication breakdowns. These include lack of a good opening line, inappropriate context, awkward moments, vague language, and a physician-centered rather than a patient-centered interview style. In effective HIV-related discussions, clinicians elicit the patient's beliefs and concerns first, are organized, use empathy, provide a rationale for the discussion, persist through awkward moments, and clarify vague language. In addition to information about sexual behaviors and the number, gender, and HIV status of partners, clinicians should ask about the context and antecedents to risk behaviors, praise prior attempts to reduce risk, and assess the patient's motivation to change. Although studies indicate that experienced practitioners often do not have these skills, they can be learned.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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