To increase human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing rates, many institutions and jurisdictions have revised policies to make the testing process rapid, simple, and routine. A major issue for testing scale-up efforts is the effectiveness of HIV risk-reduction counseling, which has historically been an integral part of the HIV testing process.
To assess the effect of brief patient-centered risk-reduction counseling at the time of a rapid HIV test on the subsequent acquisition of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Design, Setting, and Participants
From April to December 2010, Project AWARE randomized 5012 patients from 9 sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics in the United States to receive either brief patient-centered HIV risk-reduction counseling with a rapid HIV test or the rapid HIV test with information only. Participants were assessed for multiple STIs at both baseline and 6-month follow-up.
Participants randomized to counseling received individual patient-centered risk-reduction counseling based on an evidence-based model. The core elements included a focus on the patient’s specific HIV/STI risk behavior and negotiation of realistic and achievable risk-reduction steps. All participants received a rapid HIV test.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The prespecified outcome was a composite end point of cumulative incidence of any of the measured STIs over 6 months. All participants were tested for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Treponema pallidum (syphilis), herpes simplex virus 2, and HIV. Women were also tested for Trichomonas vaginalis.
There was no significant difference in 6-month composite STI incidence by study group (adjusted risk ratio, 1.12; 95% CI, 0.94-1.33). There were 250 of 2039 incident cases (12.3%) in the counseling group and 226 of 2032 (11.1%) in the information-only group.
Conclusion and Relevance
Risk-reduction counseling in conjunction with a rapid HIV test did not significantly affect STI acquisition among STD clinic patients, suggesting no added benefit from brief patient-centered risk-reduction counseling.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01154296