I stole this information from an article on aidsmap.com. If simply giving people evidence based information changed people’s attitudes and behaviour then the world would be a very different place and HIV would be unheard of. A few things to consider when helping someone who is very anxious about HIV routes of transmission, particularly the low risk ones like shared household items…
l Anticipate hidden anxieties
Somebody’s most important anxieties are not necessarily those they find most easy to articulate. The hidden ones (which may be to do with insecurities about their sexuality) that may be at the root of their concerns may only emerge into the light of day if given sensitive encouragement.
l Find out what they know or do not know about HIV transmission
There may be silent or implicit beliefs derived from old sources of information or from media misinformation which do not fit with—and so prevent the assimilation of—the new information. Find out, then, what their sources of knowledge are, i.e. not only what they believe, but where they heard it from. This will help you pitch the tone and level of your advice and information.
l Provide a basis for anticipating future anxieties
Simply giving someone the bare facts will only, at best, deal with past and existing fears. Furnish them with the tools to analyse to weed our misinformation and source credible information like aidsmap.com!
l Avoid being drawn into theoretical arguments
I am guilty of this…. Arguing over that 0.0001 percent probability of transmission. Rather than argue the numbers it may be more effective to suggest practical precautions to set their mind at rest depending on the scenario it could be sterilising razors, not sharing tooth brushes etc…
l Help put things into perspective
This can be done in two ways. One way is to encourage them to examine why they are worried about the kind of theoretical, extremely low-probability events that, in other areas of their lives do not concern them, such as the dangers of being killed by an aeroplane dropping on top of them out of the sky, etc.
Another way is to look more closely at why HIV means so much more to them than other much more likely threats, such as road traffic. In other words, it can be helpful to encourage them to compare their anxieties about HIV with the general level of commitment they put into maximising their health. n