Partner Notification Services
Whether a patient is newly diagnosed with HIV, or another sexually transmitted disease (STD), or has lived with HIV for many years, Partner Notification Services discussions provide a critical opportunity to talk with patients about adopting safer sexual behaviors, leverage patient-health care provider relationships, and maximize that trust to help stop transmission of HIV and STDs.
How Does Partner Notification Services Help Patients?
Partner Notification Services provides an array of free services to persons with HIV, or other STDs (such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydial infection), and their partners. Partner Notification Services is a function of local and state health department staff who help to identify and locate sex and/or drug-injecting partners to inform them of their recent exposure and to provide them testing, counseling, and referrals for other services. Partner Notification Services programs help patients by:
- Ensuring that trained professionals contact the patient and inform his or her partners of their exposure without using the patient’s name, removing the burden of disclosure from the patient and his or her status.
- Ensuring that adequate time is spent coaching the patient on how to inform his or her partners about their exposures if the patient chooses this method.
- Increasing patients’ knowledge about how to protect themselves and maintain their own health.
- Presenting another free resource for the patient to access education and counseling about how to live successfully with HIV.
- Helping partners get tested quickly and facilitating timely treatment or linkage to care.
How Does Partner Notification Services Benefit Health Care Providers?
Partner Notification Services programs are not intended to have health care providers take on the role of partner notification. In fact, they are designed to relieve clinicians’ workload by offering a free resource to help patients notify their sex or drug-injecting partners of their possible exposure to an infectious disease.
It is very helpful for health care providers to educate their patients about Partner Notification Services and its importance in preventing the spread of infection.
How Do Health Care Providers Talk About Partner Notification Services with Patients Being Tested for HIV/STDs?
Clinicians seeing patients who are being tested for HIV or STDs should:
- Talk about Partner Notification Services, and let patients know that if they test positive for a reportable disease, they may be contacted by someone from the health department.
- Discuss how Partner Notification Services can help them and their sex or drug-injecting partners through early access to testing, treatment, and other services.
- Conduct brief discussion with patients about adopting safer sexual behaviors.
How Do Health Care Providers Talk About Partner Notification Services with Newly Diagnosed HIV-Infected Patients?
Clinicians seeing a patient for the first time should speak with him or her about Partner Notification Services to determine if it was previously addressed. If not, repeat the same process discussed earlier for patients being tested for HIV/STDs.
How Do Health Care Providers Talk About Partner Notification Services with Patients Living With HIV?
For patients who present with an STD or report risky behavior, clinicians should consider the following:
- Make the patient aware that he or she may be contacted by someone from the health department.
- Discuss strategies to reduce risky behaviors.
- Make a direct referral to the Partner Notification Services program.
- Consider making a referral to a community-based organization or other agency that offers Comprehensive Risk Counseling Services.
How Can Health Care Providers Learn More About Partner Notification Services
To learn more about how Partner Notification Services works locally and to obtain information about state and local laws related to Partner Notification Services, contact the local or state health department. To find the local health department, go to www.healthfinder.gov > Organizations > State Agencies.
- Page last reviewed: August 29, 2017
- Page last updated: August 29, 2017
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