Counselling will depend on the outcome of the test. If the results are negative the following issues must be covered:
"Window period": Following a possible exposure to HIV, there is a window period during which the negative test result based on antibody testing cannot be regarded definitive. The client could be infected with HIV, but still test antibody negative. The client should be strongly advised to repeat the test three months later to confirm the results, but ensure safer sexual practices during that period. For further information please see the "National Guideline for Voluntary Testing and Counselling".
Further exposure to HIV infection can be prevented only by avoiding high risk behaviour.
Issues on safer sex practices and healthy life styles must be covered
If the results are positive, it should be acknowledged that, receiving positive results is emotionally devastating and requires intense emotional support. This is because positive results are´ associated with fear, sense of loss, grief, guilt, depression, denial, anxiety, anger, suicidal thinking and loss of self esteem, etc.
As part of counselling the client should be introduced and encouraged to join the post test clubs and other self-help groups. The counsellor must be aware and have a list of groups and organizations working on HIV/AIDS care and support. Depending on client’s needs, he/she will discuss with the client regarding possible referral for required service. Issues to be discussed in post test counselling will depend on the reaction of the individual and his/her prevailing condition e.g., has developed AIDS related symptoms, is pregnant, is breastfeeding e.t.c.
The focus of post test counselling should be 3 fold:
Helping the person to live positively with HIV.
Assisting him/her to access available HIV/AIDS care and support services including treatment.
Reducing/mitigating behaviours that put others at risk e.g., unprotected sex, continued breastfeeding, mixed feeding of infants.
Sometimes HIV test result may neither be negative nor positive (indeterminate). In such circumstances, the client should be informed about the meaning of such result and be informed that another blood specimen should be sent for ELISA testing for confirmation