‘My partner is HIV positive’

THIS can be an emotional and frightening time for patients. Waiting for results and window periods to lapse can be a time of great anxiety, so much so that the associated acute psychological distress may become the patient’s primary problem. 

Managing this scenario requires time, and needs to be driven in part by the patient presentation. By addressing the emotional response and employing a systematic approach you will be able to collect the essential information in a timely manner.


An accurate history is essential to determine the patient’s risk and this will guide counselling and education. Contact with the index patient needs to be discussed (when, what sort of contact, how long ago, etc) as well as the patient’s individual HIV risk behaviours (other sexual contacts, condom use, injecting drug use, etc). 

History of previous HIV testing may help to identify the at-risk