'So why are you here?' Assessing risk in HIV prevention and test decision counselling

Ann Marie Kinnell, University of Southern Mississippi


This paper examines how counsellors attempt to assess clients' risks for contracting HIV when they come in for HIV testing. Starting with Maynard's (1989) proposal that an analysis of social problems should begin with an analysis of talk-in-interaction, I examine how a client's 'problem' of being at-risk for HIV is made visible or not in HIV prevention and test decision counselling sessions. First, I analyse counsellors' use of open-ended questions as a method for making the problem of at-risk for HIV visible within the interaction and how clients respond to those questions. Second, I analyse how the meaning of the clients' risks is negotiated in the interaction as counsellors support or contest clients' accounts for getting an HIV test.