Halkitis Calls for Revised HIV Prevention Strategy in Chelsea Now
Perry Halkitis, professor of applied psychology and director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) and Daniel Siconolfi, project director, have recently published a piece in Chelsea Now calling for a revised strategy for managing HIV testing.
Their research on the testing habits of gay and bisexual men in New York has found that wide majorities of men are testing for HIV on a frequent basis. For instance, about 90 percent of Black and Latino men who were surveyed had tested in the previous year. This compares with about 70 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander men and 70 percent of white men.
Despite these high levels of testing, Halkitis and Siconolfi argue that testing alone, without pre- and post-test counseling, can result in a false sense of protection for men who engage in risky sex. Since it takes several weeks for a test to detect HIV antibodies following an infection, testing that occurs close to the time of the infection may result in a "false negative" result.
The authors argue that pre- and post-test counseling is crucial to "correctly assess the client's level of risk and to contextualize the results within the window period. ... The counseling session is a crucial and limited window of opportunity to provide information and skills that can help an individual remain HIV-negative."