A new report published by the National AIDS Trust calls for technology to become a greater part of  helping people newly diagnosed with an STI including HIV to tell their former partners.

The report shows that “contact tracing” has found that 37% of partners found of those newly diagnosed with HIV also tested positive when they did not know their status.  Early diagnosis of HIV is key to successfully managing the condition to prevent it from becoming life threatening.

The National AIDS Trust recommends:

  • Sexual health clinics should use online technology such as messaging via gay dating websites and smart-phone apps within their partner notification processes.
  • Clear national standards for HIV partner notification should be introduced, including HIV-specific guidance for healthcare workers (as is done for other STIs such as chlamydia).
  • Clinics should be properly commissioned and resourced to do high quality partner notification and should look to incorporate further support for patients around HIV disclosure.
  • Communities most at risk of HIV such as gay men and African communities should be told about the benefits of partner notification.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “HIV is still a highly stigmatised condition and this can make it very difficult for a person diagnosed with HIV to share their status with other people, particularly previous sexual partners.

“We know how effective HIV partner notification can be in getting people who may be at risk tested and diagnosed but it is not clear that this message is well communicated to patients. Most people with HIV, when they understand the benefits of partner notification, are keen to do the right thing but they might not necessarily know how.

“This report puts the spotlight on why we need to start taking HIV partner notification seriously, as well as the various ways we can shake up and modernise the current system – in order to utilise it as an effective tool for testing, diagnosis and prevention.”

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