Wednesday, March 12, 2008
There are varying degrees of HIV/STD program integration throughout California's local health jurisdictions (LHJs). While elicitation of partners from HIV positive individuals has been relatively easy to integrate into HIV prevention programs, developing capacity for these programs to conduct field investigation, notification of exposure to HIV, and referral of exposed partners to HIV testing and/or care has been more challenging. Five local health department HIV programs identified a need to build internal program capacity to conduct HIV partner notification field activities.
To pilot a Field Investigation and HIV Partner Services Training Program with HIV program staff which would enhance local infrastructure in field investigation, notification, and follow-up of exposed partners.
CA STD Control Branch, Partner Counseling and Referral Services (PCRS) Unit and Regional Field Offices, collaborated with LHJs to build field investigation skills and systems needed for HIV partner notification. The model included: 1) a program orientation meeting 2) a didactic and experiential training course, and 3) a mentoring project. This process was tracked through a set of tools that included a skills checklist and self assessment.
Ten HIV program staff completed the training program from February 2006 to March 2007. Upon completion of the program, all 10 mentees reported “moderately confident” to “very confident” in each skills-set area for conducting field work. Five local health department HIV programs now have competent staff and essential systems in place to implement the field component of their local PCRS program.
Collaboration between HIV and STD programs and PTCs can build local HIV program capacity to conduct HIV field activities and partner notification and foster an appreciation for the complexity of field investigation work.
Areas with dwindling field infrastructure can explore the feasibility of implementing a similar training program in their local health department.