The main objective of HIV related counselling is to assist the client to cope with HIV test results. Other reasons include prevention and minimize the risk of exposure or reinfection by HIV and to provide psychological support to the client and those affected by HIV/AIDS. The essential features of counselling include creating the environment for acceptance by the client, providing time to absorb news about the diagnosis of HIV, and allowing the client to react and express concerns. It is important to agree on a follow up plan with the client
The counsellor should realize that some clients seeking counselling services may be quite knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, and that some of them may come to the counsellor for clarification of some aspects rather than needing basic information on HIV/AIDS. Some individuals may also be aware that they are at risk; others may be unaware of the risk involved. Others may come for support because they have been found to be HIV infected and some may already have developed HIV related symptoms and/or AIDS. In some cases depending on the characteristics of the clients, group counselling may be conducted.
There is therefore need for a counsellor to be flexible in their style and communication strategy so as to pass on the relevant information to each individual they see.