Background: Partner services (PSs) are a long-standing component of HIV control programs in the United States and some parts of Europe. Small randomized trials suggest that HIV PS can be effective in identifying persons with undiagnosed HIV infection. However, the scalability and effectiveness of HIV PS in low-income countries are unknown.
Methods: We used data collected from 2009 to 2010 through a large HIV PS program in Cameroon to evaluate HIV PS in a developing country. HIV-positive index cases diagnosed in antenatal care, voluntary counseling and testing, and inpatient facilities were interviewed to collect information on their sexual partners. Partners were contacted via telephone or home visit to notify, test, and enroll those found to be HIV positive in medical care.
Results: Health advisors interviewed 1462 persons with HIV infection during the evaluation period; these persons provided information about 1607 sexual partners. Health advisors notified 1347 (83.8%) of these partners, of whom 900 (66.8%) were HIV tested. Of partners tested, 451 (50.1%) were HIV positive, of whom 386 (85.6%) enrolled into HIV medical care. An average 3.2 index cases needed to be interviewed to identify 1 HIV case.
Conclusions: HIV PS can be successfully implemented in a developing country and is highly effective in identifying persons with HIV infection and linking them to care.