Updated 20 October 2016

Pre- and post- HIV test counselling

Learn more about HIV test counselling and how healthcare professional are obliged to provide support before and after testing.



  • The HIV test is different from all other tests.
  • It has phenomenal emotional, psychological, practical and social implications for the client.
  • HIV testing should therefore never be done without thorough pre-test counselling.
  • Pre-test counselling that is done in a proper and comprehensive way prepares the client and counsellor for more effective post-test counselling.
  • Because clients are often too relieved or shocked to take much information in during post-test counselling, the health care professional should make use of the educational opportunities offered by pre-test counselling.
  • Clients: although it may be difficult for you to go for pre-HIV test counselling, the psychological effects of being prepared by a professional for HIV testing far outweigh any possible “benefits” of privacy. Health care professionals are trained to do pre- and post-test counselling in a professional way and to keep all information confidential. It is also your right as client to stay anonymous or to use a pseudo (or false) name when you go for testing.

According to the National Policy on Testing for HIV (published in August, 2000) nobody may be tested for HIV without their informed consent, and without proper pre- HIV test counselling.


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HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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