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AIDS Educ Prev. 1997 Jun;9(3 Suppl):52-67.

The effects of HIV counseling and testing on risk-related practices and help-seeking behavior.

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Behavioral Intervention Research Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


In an earlier review of the behavioral effects of HIV counseling and testing (HIV CT), Higgins and colleagues (1991) found that the evidence regarding the ability of HIV CT to influence HIV-risk related practices was largely inconclusive. This article reviews 35 domestic and international studies published since that time to reassess the scientific data regarding the ability of HIV CT to motivate changes in risk-related practices and to promote help-seeking behavior. The studies identified for this review were grouped into four categories according to subject population: (1) men who have sex with men, (2) injection and other drug users, (3) women and heterosexual couples, and (4) mixed samples recruited from sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics and other settings. Findings from the studies reviewed were generally mixed--many provided at least some evidence supporting the ability of HIV CT to motivate risk-reducing and help-seeking behavior, but others did not. The pattern of results varied substantially across, and within, study populations and were often limited by considerable methodological weaknesses.

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