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Differences in Partner Services Outcomes for Men Who Have Sex With Men Diagnosed With Primary and Secondary Syphilis by HIV Serostatus

Rowlinson, Emily MPH*; Goings, Samuel MPH; Minnerly, Sydney MS; Surita, Karen BS; Pogosjans, Sargis MPH*

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: March 2018 - Volume 45 - Issue 3 - p 152–157
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000710
Original Studies

Background Differences in partner services outcomes in men who have sex with men (MSM) by HIV serostatus have not been explored as a potential driver of differential early syphilis (ES) burden in this population.

Methods We compared partner services outcomes (number of partners named, notified, tested, diagnosed, and treated) between HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM initiated for ES partner services in Texas from 2013 to 2016 using logistic regression and Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests. Logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between HIV serostatus and having a no-partner–initiated (NPI) partner services interview controlling for demographic characteristics, prior partner services interactions, and geosocial phone application use.

Results A total of 4161 HIV-positive MSM and 5254 HIV-negative MSM were initiated for ES partner services. HIV-positive MSM named fewer partners than did HIV-negative MSM (mean, 1.2 vs. 1.9; P < 0.001) and had lower indices of partners notified, tested, diagnosed, and treated. HIV seropositivity was significantly associated with NPI. However, this association was not significant when limited to MSM with previous partner services interviews (adjusted risk ratio [aRR] 1.06; P = 0.38); in this subset of MSM, using geosocial phone application was negatively associated with having an NPI interview (aRR, 0.90), and having 1 (aRR, 1.33) or more than 1 previous NPI interview (aRR, 1.57) was associated with an NPI interview during the study period.

Conclusions Suboptimal outcomes for syphilis partner service may result in missed opportunities for testing and treatment of sexual contacts, which could allow for propagation of syphilis. Implementation of innovative protocols is needed to ensure that partner services continue to be an effective and acceptable method of syphilis disease intervention in MSM.

An analysis of early syphilis partner services in Texas found suboptimal outcomes for men who have sex with men regardless of serostatus; having previous partner services was predictive of a no-partner–initiated interview.

From the *TB/HIV/STD Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch and †HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, TX

Conflict of interest: None declared.

Correspondence: Emily Rowlinson, MPH, Texas Department of State Health Services, MC 1873, PO Box 149347, Austin, TX 78714. E-mail:

Received for publication June 12, 2017, and accepted August 20, 2017.

© Copyright 2018 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association