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Effect of Risk-Reduction Counseling with Rapid HIV Testing on Risk of Acquiring Sexually Transmitted Infections: The AWARE Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA 2013;310(16):1701-1710. [doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.280034]

Lisa R. Metsch, PhD (Columbia University, FNA Node), Daniel J. Feaster, PhD (University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, FNA Node), Lauren Gooden, PhD, MPH (University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, FNA Node), Bruce R. Schackman, PhD (Weill Cornell Medical College), Tim Matheson, PhD (SF Department of Public Health, WS Node), Moupali Das, MD, MPH (SF Department of Public Health, WS Node), Matthew R. Golden, MD (University of Washington, PN Node), Shannon Huffaker, MSN (SF Department of Public Health, WS Node), Louise F. Haynes, MSW (Medical University of South Carolina, SC Node), Susan Tross, PhD (New York State Psychiatric Institute, GNY Node), C. Kevin Malotte, DrPH (California State University, Long Beach, WS Node), Antoine Douaihy, MD (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, ATS Node), P. Todd Korthuis, MD, MPH (Oregon Health & Science University, WS Node), Wayne A. Duffus, MD (University of South Carolina School of Medicine, SC Node), Sarah Henn, MD (Whitman-Walker Clinic, MA Node), Robert Bolan, MD (Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center), Susan S. Philip, MD (SF Department of Public Health, WS Node), Jose G. Castro, MD (University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, FNA Node), Pedro C. Castellon, MPH (Columbia University, FNA Node), Gayle McLaughlin, PhD (Duval County Health Department, FNA Node), Raul N. Mandler, MD (Center for the Clinical Trials Network, NIDA), Bernard Branson, MD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Grant N. Colfax, MD (SF Department of Public Health, WS Node).

This is the results article for Project AWARE. 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. The objective of Project AWARE, an adaptation of CTN-0032, was 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). 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.

The prespecified outcome was a composite end point of cumulative incidence of any of the measure 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 found 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.

Conclusions: 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. These study findings lend support for reconsidering the role of counseling as an essential adjunct to HIV testing. This inference is further buttressed by the additional costs associated with counseling at the time of testing; without evidence of effectiveness, counseling cannot be considered an effective use of resources. Posttest counseling for patients testing HIV-positive remains essential, however, both for addressing psychological needs and for providing and ensuring follow-through with medical care and support. (Article (Peer-Reviewed), PDF, English, 2014)

Comment: Haukoos JS, Thrun MW. Eliminating prevention counseling to improve HIV screening. JAMA 2013;310(16):1679-1680. Free online:

Keywords: Community health services | CTN platform/ancillary study | CTN platform/ancillary study results | HIV/AIDS | HIV rapid testing | Sexual risk behavior | Sexually transmitted diseases | JAMA (journal)

Document No: 1082, PMID: 24150466, PMCID: PMC4110051.

Submitted by CTN Dissemination Librarians, 7/23/2014.

Bolan, Robert search
Branson, Bernard search
Castellon, Pedro C. search mail
Castro, Jose G. search
Colfax, Grant N. search
Das, Moupali search mail
Douaihy, Antoine B. search mail
Duffus, Wayne A. search
Feaster, Daniel J. search mail
Golden, Matthew R. search
Gooden, Lauren K. search mail
Haynes, Louise F. search mail
Henn, Sarah search mail
Huffaker, Shannon search mail
Korthuis, P. Todd search mail
Malotte, C. Kevin search mail
Mandler, Raul N. search mail
Matheson, Tim search mail
McLaughlin, Gayle search
Metsch, Lisa R. search mail
Philip, Susan S. search
Schackman, Bruce R. search
Tross, Susan search mail
NIDA-CTN-0032 search www
Project AWARE search www

Supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
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