Opportunities for Improving Partner Notification for HIV

A health worker helps a member of the public complete forms at a polling station which offers flu shots.

Building trusting relationships between providers and HIV-positive men is key to improving partner notification.

The Issue:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that health departments notify sexual and needle-sharing partners of individuals newly diagnosed with HIV. Within health departments, disease intervention specialists and case managers are trained to deliver partner notification, particularly to men who have sex with men (MSM), the group with the greatest risk for spreading HIV. Partner notification rates, however, remain suboptimal.

Three themes emerged from this study:

  1. Clients (MSM) and providers (case managers and disease intervention specialists) perceive sexual risks of MSM differently. HIV-positive status contributes to low self-esteem and sexual promiscuity, and hinders disclosure.
  2. MSM clients and providers differ in their perception about the impact of disclosing HIV status.
  3. Both clients and providers acknowledge that building trusting relationships with MSM clients and withholding judgment can pave the way to achieving personal notification, but acknowledge barriers to doing so.


HIV-positive men are more accepting about notifying their sexual partners when a public health worker establishes a nonjudgmental, trusting relationship.

About the Study:

Investigators involved a community AIDS service agency and the Connecticut Department of Public Health, as well as persons living with and without AIDS in this community-based participatory research project.