Background: Partner services can facilitate HIV case identification. However, many partners do not test after HIV notification. NYC Health Department introduced HIV testing following partner notification in field settings (e.g., partner’s home, official car). We use OraSure® HIV-1 Oral Specimen Collection Device because it is easy to use, the specimen collected is suitable for both antibody screening and confirmatory Western Blot testing, and field staff does not need to give results immediately.
Objectives: To evaluate field testing impact on HIV testing rates.
Methods: We compared pre-field testing outcomes (September 1, 2006–May 31, 2007) to post-field testing outcomes (September 1, 2008–May 31, 2009). We selected these dates to allow for phase-in of: 1) HIV partner services program (July 2006), 2) field testing (February 2008), and to account for seasonal changes in testing rates. We used chi-squared tests to detect differences by demographic group.
Results: A significantly larger proportion of partners tested after the introduction of field testing. Testing rates among negative or unknown partners rose from 50% (84 tested /169 notified) to 74% (164/221) (p<0.01). Men’s testing rates increased more (45% to 75%; p<0.01) than women’s (59% to 74%; p=0.07), particularly among MSM (35% to 67%; p<0.01) and young men (20–39 years; 38% to 73%; p<0.01). Tested partners chose field testing over clinic-based testing 85% of time.
Conclusions: NYC health department observed a dramatic increase in the percent of notified partners who tested after the introduction of field testing. Impact was most substantial among men, a group with lower baseline testing rates, including MSM and young men.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: Field testing at partner notification significantly increased HIV testing rates among partners notified of HIV exposure.