HIV/STI partner notification by providers

In HIV/STI partner notification by providers, known as provider referral, patients who test positive for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) voluntarily share information about current or past sex and needle-sharing partners with a health care provider; providers notify partners of their potential risk and help them seek counseling, testing, and prevention and care as appropriate (CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy, Hogben 2007*). Provider referral is most often used for patients with HIV and syphilis (CDC MMWR-Partner services 2008). Notification is often completed by disease information specialists at public health departments or similar public health personnel (Cochrane-Ferreira 2013*).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased STI testing

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that partner notification by provider referral increases testing for HIV among partners of newly diagnosed patients (CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy, Hogben 2016) and increases identification of HIV in undiagnosed individuals (CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy, Hogben 2016, Cochrane-Ferreira 2013*).

Based on effectiveness among HIV patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends patient notification by provider referral for syphilis and, in high priority cases, gonorrhea and chlamydia (CDC MMWR-Partner services 2008). When resources do not allow provider referral, CDC recommends that patients infected with chlamydia and gonorrhea be counseled to inform their partners (CDC MMWR-Partner services 2008). Additional research is needed to confirm the most effective type of referral for STIs other than HIV (Cochrane-Ferreira 2013*).

Use of electronic notification options such as text messaging, email, social networking and other websites and apps appear to be acceptable, particularly when partners might not have been notified (Pellowski 2016) or been unreachable without electronic notification (Hochberg 2015).

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Partner notification services appear to be used widely; in 2016, most surveyed STI testing sites reported providing some form of partner notification services (Desir 2016).

Implementation Resources

CDC-HIV Partner services - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HIV, Hepatitis, STD and TB Partner Services. Contains recommendations at the state and local level to increase program collaboration, service integration, and decrease costs.

WI DHS-HIV partner services - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI DHS). HIV partner services.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). HIV/AIDS, STIs, and pregnancy.

Hogben 2016 - Hogben M, Collins D, Hoots B, O'Connor K. Partner services in STD prevention programs: A review. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2016;43(Suppl 1):S53-S62.

Cochrane-Ferreira 2013* - Ferreira A, Young T, Mathews C, Zunza M, Low N. Strategies for partner notification for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013;(10):CD002843.

CDC MMWR-Partner services 2008 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recommendations for partner services programs for HIV infection, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydial infection. Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2008;57(RR-09):1-83.

Pellowski 2016 - Pellowski J, Mathews C, Kalichman MO, Dewing S, Lurie MN, Kalichman SC. Advancing partner notification through electronic communication technology: A review of acceptability and utilization research. Journal of Health Communication. 2016;21(6):629-637.

Hochberg 2015 - Hochberg CH, Berringer K, Schneider JA. Next-generation methods for HIV partner services: A systematic review. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2015;42(9):533-539.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Desir 2016 - Desir FA, Ladd JH, Gaydos CA. Survey of partner notification practices for sexually transmissible infections in the United States. Sexual Health. 2016;13(2):162.

Date Last Updated