Importance: 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.
Objective: 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.
Interventions: 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.
Results: 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.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01154296.