Persons at risk for infection with the human immunodeficiency virus are being encouraged to learn their serostatus. While such knowledge can help patients seek appropriate medical care, it can also be distressing. We describe an approach, based on crisis counseling, for physicians to use in working with patients infected with HIV. It can help physicians in assisting patients with emotional reactions to the diagnosis as well as in directing patients to manage practical issues of concern. Methods for discussing safer sex or injection practices are also presented.