Assisted Partner Services for HIV: Ready to Go Global

HIV/TB Resource 28 Aug 2023

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Partner notification has been a part of efforts to control sexually transmitted infections (STI) since the 18th century, when Danish priests sought to notify the sex partners of persons with syphilis[1]. But despite this long history, the intervention has been neglected as a means to control HIV. That is now changing. In December 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines recommending that “assisted partner notification services be offered as part of a comprehensive package of testing and care offered to persons with HIV.[2]” This change was prompted by the global consensus that case-finding and treatment are central to HIV control efforts, and by a recent series of randomized trials and program evaluations from sub-Saharan Africa[3–6]. In this issue of AIDS, Dalal and colleagues present a systematic review and meta-analysis undertaken as part of the development of the new WHO guidelines. Based on results of three individual-level randomized controlled trials, they found that assisted partner services (APS) increased partner notification and new HIV diagnoses among the sex partners of persons with new diagnosed HIV by approximately 50%. A Kenyan cluster randomized trial found that APS increased HIV diagnoses 5-fold. Adverse events (i.e. partnership dissolution, intimate partner violence) were not significantly associated with receipt of APS and were rare. Given the new data and guidelines, where do we stand and what needs to be done?