Peters PJ, Gay C, Beagle S, Shankar A, Switzer WM, Hightow-Weidman LB; Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Feb 7;63(5):90-4.
The incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has significantly increased among black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States, and young black MSM have been disproportionately affected. HIV infected black MSM are also less likely to engage in HIV care and achieve viral suppression than MSM of other races/ethnicities. Engaging in care and achieving viral suppression is a multistep process that starts with diagnosis. Diagnosing persons unaware of their HIV status traditionally has been a critical component of HIV partner services, but partner services also provide an important opportunity to reengage HIV-infected partners in medical care. One approach for partner services involves contacting partners of persons with newly diagnosed HIV infection and using sexual and social network and molecular phylogenetic data to improve the continuum of HIV care among black MSM. To evaluate the effectiveness of that approach, results from a prospective partner services study conducted in North Carolina were examined, and one of the partner networks identified through this study was evaluated in depth. Overall, partner services were provided to 30 black, HIV-infected MSM who named 95 sex partners and social contacts, of whom 39 (41%) previously had been diagnosed with HIV infection. The partner network evaluation demonstrated that HIV-infected and HIV-negative partners were frequently in the same network, and that the majority of HIV-infected partners were already aware of their diagnosis but had not achieved viral suppression. Using partner services to ensure that HIV-infected partners are linked to care and treatment might reduce HIV transmission and might improve outcomes along the continuum of care.