Cherutich, P., Golden, M.R., Wamuti, B. The Lancet HIV (November 2016), e-publication ahead of print. doi:10.1016/S2352-3018(16)30214-4.
This study examined whether assisted partner services (APS) increased access to HIV testing services (HTS) and treatment for partners of newly diagnosed individuals. APS entails interviewing newly diagnosed individuals to gain information on sexual partners; contacting sexual partners; and linking them to HTS and treatment as needed. Study participants (n=1119) were divided into an “immediate" group that advised HIV-positive clients to notify partners, and provided immediate follow-up partner notification support; and a "delayed" group, which also advised HIV-positive clients to notify partners, but did not provide partner notification support until the six-week follow-up. In the immediate group, 63 percent of sexual partners agreed to HTS; among these, 35 percent tested HIV-positive. For refusals, 26 percent were due to prior knowledge of their HIV status, and 11 percent were due to recent testing or preferring to delay testing. In the delayed group, at six-week follow-up, only 13 percent of partners had accessed HTS. Partners of clients in the immediate group were 15 times more likely to access HTS for the first time than partners of clients in the delayed group, and 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV. Immediate testing also resulted in significantly higher enrollment. The authors concluded that APS is effective and acceptable, and should be scaled up in sub-Saharan Africa to help identify HIV-positive individuals and initiate early antiretroviral treatment.