Treatment Overview

During counseling, a qualified counselor
helps you cope with or change your thoughts, feelings, or behaviors regarding
HIV infection. Your family and caregivers may also
benefit from counseling.

  • Counseling is usually short-term (8 to 20
    visits), but it may take months or years.
  • You may seek short-term
    therapy more than once if the HIV infection progresses.

Sessions may be individual or as part of a group.

There are several types of counseling:

The choice of counseling is based on your individual needs,
background, and symptoms.

Why It Is Done

  • People who are infected with HIV have a greater
    risk of developing
  • Counseling helps you deal with the emotional
    aspects of the disease.
  • Grief counseling can help you deal with
    end-of-life issues, if needed.

How Well It Works

The effectiveness of counseling
varies. Some people respond very well. Others find minimal relief. Studies
suggest that counseling can effectively treat people who have HIV and who also have
problems with depression.

Counseling sometimes includes becoming a
member of a support group. Support groups are often good places to share
information, problem-solving tips, and emotions related to HIV infection. The
organizations listed in the Other Places to Get Help section of the topic Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection often sponsor support groups for people
who test positive for HIV as well as for their caregivers and friends. Contact
one of these organizations to find the support group nearest you.


There are no known risks.

What To Think About

Select a therapist who is trained
and experienced in treating people who have HIV infection.

Counseling may be expensive, depending on the type of therapy and the
provider. Check with your health plan to determine whether coverage for
counseling is provided.

For more information, see the topic

Complete the special treatment information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Shalit, MD, PhD – Internal Medicine

Current as ofMarch 3, 2017