Next-Generation Methods for HIV Partner Services: A Systematic Review

Sex Transm Dis. 2015 Sep;42(9):533-9. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000335.


Partner notification is a widely accepted method whose intent is to limit onward HIV transmission. With increasing use of new technologies such as text messaging, e-mail, and social network sites, there is growing interest in using these techniques for "next-generation" HIV partner services (PS). We conducted a systematic review to assess the use and effectiveness of these technologies in HIV PS. Our literature search resulted in 1343 citations, with 7 meeting inclusion criteria. We found programs in 2 domains: (1) Public Health Department usage of new technologies to augment traditional partner notification (n = 3) and (2) patient or provider-led usage of partner notification Web sites (n = 4) The health department-based efforts showed an ability to find new cases in a previously unreachable population but in the limited comparisons to traditional PS had a lower rate of successful contact. Usage data from the partner notification Web sites revealed a high total number of e-notifications sent, with less than 10% of cards sent for HIV. Clear evidence on outcomes and directly traceable utilization for these Web services was lacking. When given a choice, most clients chose to send e-notifications via text versus e-mail. Although successful notification may be lower overall, use of next-generation services provides an avenue to contact those who would previously have been untraceable. Additional research is needed to determine to what extent technology-enhanced PS improves the identification of newly infected persons as well as the initiation of new prevention interventions for HIV-negative clients within high-risk networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Contact Tracing / methods*
  • Directive Counseling
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Preventive Health Services
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Text Messaging*