Undergoing an HIV test can be quite an overwhelming experience for many people. Owing to the social stigma associated with this disease, undergoing a test is an emotionally disturbing experience. Depending on their mental strengths and confidence levels, people can experience a wide range of emotions such as depression, frustration, fear, anger, hopelessness, despair, panic or even plain denial to accept the truth about their status.
Therefore, just before the test is conducted, the person must be given psychological counseling, also referred to as 'Pre-Test Counseling' to strengthen him or her from within and enable him or her to face the test with full confidence, irrespective of what the result may be.
The pre-test counseling is very important to control the emotional trauma and the fear of the impending dangers and consequences associated with the positive result of a test.
If the person is found to be HIV negative, then the person can be sent away after advising him some prevention measures for the future. However, if the person is found to be HIV positive, then the person should be told about this only after another round of psychological counseling, referred to as 'Post-Test Counseling'.
The objective of post-test counseling is to ease the worry and tension in the patient's mind and to support him or her emotionally when their status is disclosed to them. The counseling is necessary to prevent suicidal tendency in the patient and to keep his emotions in control. The counselor should project the situation in a positive light and emphasize that it is actually good that the patient has learnt about his or her positive status early because this will make treatment easier and enable him or her to handle the future complications associated with this disease better. The counselor should also help the individual regain his confidence, infuse a determination to live his remaining life better.