Online counseling and support groups for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS


Key take-home messages
  • Given the importance of counselling and support groups in maintaining the well-being of HIV-positive individuals, it is important to consider providing these services online which can reduce barriers related to mobility, scheduling constraints and stigma.
  • There is interest in online HIV/AIDS counselling by people living with HIV/AIDS; however, at the time of this review, the peer-reviewed literature on best practices and ethical issues of HIV/AIDS online support groups and counselling was limited.
  • Users of HIV/AIDS online support groups tend to be younger, female, not in relationships, newly diagnosed or in advanced, symptomatic stages of the disease.
  • Online support interventions appear to be effective. Those who actively participated in online HIV/AIDS support groups experienced a greater sense of empowerment through receiving social support and information, and helping others; they also experienced higher levels of adaptive coping and better psychological health outcomes than those who participated less frequently.
  • Existing HIV/AIDS online counselling services tend to be in more static formats, such as online informational materials, and question and answer forums. However, there are live examples of online counselling in psycho-therapy treatments. Online support groups often involved peer-to-peer discussions in forums hosted by AIDS service organizations.


The Ontario HIV Treatment Network: Rapid Response Service




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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