Acceptance of referral for partners by clients testing positive for human immunodeficiency virus
Fetene Netsanet,1 Ayalew Dessie2
1IMA World Health SuddHealth Multi Donor Trust Fund-Basic Package of Health Services Project, Juba, South Sudan; 2United States Agency for International Development, Private Health Sector Program, Abt Associates Inc, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive individuals who do not disclose their HIV status to their partners are more likely to present late for HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) care than those who have disclosed their HIV status to their partners. A major area of challenge with regards to HIV counseling for clients is disclosure of their HIV status to their partners. The main methods of partner notification are patient referral, provider referral, contract referral, and outreach assistance. The emphasis on a plausible and comprehensive partner referral strategy for widespread positive case detection in resource-limited countries needs to be thought out and developed.
Methods: A qualitative study was conducted among newly HIV-positive clients to identify partners for notification and acceptance of referral by their partners. Health service providers working in HIV testing and counseling clinics were also provided with semistructured questionnaires in order to assess their view towards partner notification strategies for clients testing positive for HIV.
Results: Fifteen newly diagnosed HIV-positive clients were counseled to provide referral slips to their partners. All clients agreed and took the referral card. However, only eight were willing and actually provided the card to their partners. Five of the eight partners of clients who tested HIV-positive and who were provided with referral cards responded to the referral and were tested for HIV. Three were positive and two were negative. Nine of 11 counselors did not agree to requesting partner locator information from HIV-positive clients for contractual referral and/or outreach assistance. The findings from the study were categorized by nine themes. A comprehensive and integrated approach of partner notification and a referral framework with active counselor involvement was developed.
Conclusion: Partner notification and referral can be improved by an integrated and comprehensive framework, with active involvement of HIV counselors in the disclosure process.
Keywords: human immunodeficiency virus, partner notification and referral, partner locator information
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