HIV Partner Services
What We Do:
HIV Partner Services is a free service offered through local health departments. The program helps HIV positive people in notifying their sexual and/or needle sharing partners of possible exposure to HIV. HIV Partner Services are always voluntary, client-centered, and confidential for both the person living with HIV and their partner(s).
The HIV Partner Services Program provides three options for letting partners know they may have been exposed to HIV and/or STDs and provide linkages to testing and medical care.
- Anonymous Third Party: Specially trained local health department staff notifies partners without disclosing any information about the original client.
- Dual Disclosure: The original client wants to disclose to partners him- or herself with the support of trained HIV Partner Services staff. Trained staff can provide immediate linkage to services once the original client has told the partner of their exposure.
- Self Disclosure: The original client notifies his or her partner(s), after working with trained HIV Partner Services staff to develop a disclosure plan.
At the local level, HIV Partner Services are available in STD clinics, HIV counseling and testing, education and prevention, and care sites where people living with HIV receive services. While the majority of program services are offered by local health department staff, many community-based organizations, private medical doctors, community clinics, correctional facilities, and health maintenance organizations are now partnering with local health departments to provide HIV Partner Services for their clients.
If you are a provider or clinic that would like to provide HIV Partner Services for your clients, or establish a referral system to the local HIV Partner Services staff, please go to the Partner Services Local Coordinators List (PDF) to find the local HIV Partner Services coordinator and be linked to a specially trained staff person in your area.
HIV Linkage to Care
Linkage to Care (LTC) is the process of assisting individuals newly diagnosed with HIV into HIV medical care. LTC is accomplished when the HIV-positive person is seen by a health care provider (e.g., physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner) to receive medical care for his or her HIV infection within 30 days of their diagnosis and the initial visit is verified.
LTC is important for several reasons:
- Early initiation of HIV treatment and long-term adherence leads to better health outcomes
- LTC soon after HIV diagnosis provides opportunities for intervention to prevent onward transmission
- HIV-positive individuals who have not been diagnosed or retained in care account for 92% of HIV transmissions¹
- 61% of all HIV transmissions may be attributed to HIV-positive individuals not retained in care¹
- Experts estimate that if 90% of people living with HIV were diagnosed and on antiretroviral therapy, HIV incidence would drop by 50%.2
Successful LTC programs collaborate with other prevention and care providers in their community to promote service integration for an overall system of care. Effective collaborations include partnering with agencies that conduct HIV testing, HIV primary care providers to whom clients can be linked for medical care, and case management agencies where clients can be referred for long term case management.
OA has a number of resources and assistance for LHJs coordinators. There are examples of verification forms, work flow charts, and LTC protocols that you can request from the OA technical assistance contact listed below. Strategies to assist linking HIV-positive individuals into care can also be found at CDC Effective Interventions.
References: 1. Skarbinski, JAMA, 2015, (as cited in Wong, 2016) 2. Kelly, JAIDS, 2015 (as cited in Wong, 2016.)