The epidemiology of HIV infection in the US in general, and in the southeast, in particular, has shifted dramatically over the past two decades, increasingly affecting women and minorities. The site for our intervention was an infectious diseases clinic based at a university hospital serving over 1,300 HIV-infected patients in North Carolina. Our patient population is diverse and reflects the trends seen more broadly in the epidemic in the southeast and in North Carolina. Practicing safer sex is a complex behavior with multiple determinants that vary by individual and social context. A comprehensive intervention that is client-centered and can be tailored to each individual’s circumstances is more likely to be effective at reducing risky behaviors among clients such as ours than are more confrontational or standardized prevention messages. One potential approach to improving safer sex practices among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) is Motivational Interviewing (MI), a non-judgmental, client-centered but directive counseling style. Below, we describe: (1) the development of the Start Talking About Risks (STAR) MI-based safer sex counseling program for PLWHA at our clinic site; (2) the intervention itself; and (3) lessons learned from implementing the intervention.
Keywords: HIV prevention, Motivational interviewing, Sexual behavior