April 15, 2009
The current cross-sectional, observational study examined recently diagnosed HIV patients' use of client partner notification (CPN), health department partner notification, or other means to inform sex partners of possible HIV exposure, and the patients' experiences with partner counseling and referral services.
The study involved 590 patients diagnosed with HIV in the previous six months at 51 HIV test, medical and research providers in Chicago and Los Angeles in 2003 and 2004. To identify independent correlates of using CPN to notify all locatable partners, logistic regression was used.
Participants reported a total of 5,091 sex partners in the six months preceding HIV diagnosis, of whom 24.6 percent (1,253) were locatable and not known to be seropositive. Of 439 patients with at least one locatable partner, 332 (75.6 percent) reported notifying 696 partners (55.5 percent) by CPN (585, 84.1 percent), health department partner notification (94, 13.5 percent), or other means (17, 2.4 percent). In total, 208 patients (47 percent) used CPN to notify all locatable partners.
Independent correlates of CPN included having fewer locatable partners and discussing the need to notify partners with an HIV medical care provider (black and Hispanic patients only). Many patients reported that their HIV test or medical care provider did not discuss the need to notify partners (48.8 percent and 33.7 percent, respectively) and did not offer health department partner notification services (60.8 percent, 52.8 percent).
"Many locatable sex partners who might benefit from being notified of potential HIV exposure are not notified," concluded the study authors. "In accordance with national policies, HIV test and medical care providers should routinely provide partner counseling and referral services to HIV-infected clients so that all locatable partners are notified and provided an opportunity to learn their HIV status."