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Partner notification feasible and effective in African settings
Roger Pebody, 2016-02-25 00:10:00
Partner notification programmes,
offering HIV testing to the sexual partners of people newly diagnosed with HIV,
have rarely been implemented in African countries, but can be highly effective
there, studies presented to the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic
Infections (CROI 2016) in Boston show. A randomised study in Kenya found that partner notification services were able to test 42% of partners mentioned, increasing testing
Partner notification (also referred to as 'partner services') aims to curb the spread of sexually
transmitted infections by testing and treating the sexual partners of newly
diagnosed people. The intervention typically involves a public health worker
interviewing people diagnosed with an STI (called ‘index cases’) about their sexual
partner(s) and then helping the index case notify their partners and arrange
testing. Index cases may contact partners themselves, or contact may be made by
healthcare workers (usually without revealing the identity of the index
Although it is resource-intensive, partner notification can
be cost-effective as it can prevent new cases of HIV infection.
Although widely used in North America and the United States,
there is limited experience of using partner notification in African countries.
Some of the only data come from Malawi and Cameroon. Differences in
culture, health systems, perceptions of HIV infection, the social status of
women and young people, and existing rates of HIV testing could affect the
feasibility and effectiveness of partner notification in Africa.