Objective: To assess the case-finding effectiveness of partner notification(PN) and cluster investigation for sexually transmitted disease (STD)/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Study: Literature review and quantitative summary.
Results: Since 1975, the median case-finding yield for syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia PN reported in the literature is about 1 new case found for every 4 or 5 cases interviewed. The yield from HIV PN is approximately half as large, although there is substantial variability in yield across reports for each disease. Published reports underline the central role provider referral plays in effective PN and case-finding. Successful PN is more likely with index cases who are of majority ethnicity and detected through screening or spontaneous presentation for care with symptoms and with partners with whom index cases have had sexual contact that is recent, frequent, and of long duration. The case-finding yield for HIV PN also is much higher when cases are diagnosed through confidential, rather than anonymous, testing. Cluster investigation and related strategies tend to have lower case-finding yields than PN but can play a very useful case-finding role, especially in settings with high disease incidence.
Conclusions: STD/HIV PN and cluster investigation can contribute meaningfully to case finding. More research is needed to strengthen the empiric foundation of PN and related strategies, including the impact they have on disease transmission.