Objective: To assess provider and client acceptance of health department-delivered HIV partner services (PS) delivered in clinical and community settings.
Methods: In 2006, New York city (NYC) formed the HIV field services unit (FSU), staffed with experienced sexually transmitted disease intervention specialists (DIS). DIS were stationed at 8 large hospitals to assist clinical providers and their HIV-positive patients with PS in areas with high rates of delayed HIV diagnoses and HIV-related mortality. We surveyed providers (self-administered questionnaire) and clients (staff-administered) to examine provider and patients as well as patients' HIV-exposed partners' acceptance of and concerns regarding PS.
Results: Response rates were as follows: 63% (132/211) providers; 90% (492/544) patients who accepted PS; 73% (16/22) patients who declined PS; 83% (139/168) partners who received notification; and 81% (25/31) partners who declined notification. Most providers felt the DIS focus and expert skills in PS was beneficial to providers (87%) and clients (89%). Most patients (91%) had a positive or neutral attitude about the health department-delivered PS. Most providers reported no disadvantage to DIS providing PS (69%); their most commonly cited (24%) concern was potential patient confusion about the roles of providers versus DIS. Patients' most common concerns were the intrusive nature of the interviews and the length of the interview (50/492, 20%). The partners wanted to know who named them (32/139, 23%).
Conclusions: Health department-delivered PS by DIS in clinical and community settings was acceptable to providers, HIV-infected patients, and HIV-exposed partners. Overall, our survey showed strong provider and client support for this approach.