February's Et Al.: NCSD's Journal Club focused a recent article “Integrating HIV testing in syphilis partner services in Mississippi to improve HIV case finding.” Here's a quick Q and A with one of the authors, Tigran Avoundjian, University of Washington and Public Health Seattle & King County HIV/STD Program.
Health departments can leverage syphilis partner services for high impact HIV prevention activities, such as HIV testing, PrEP referrals, and HIV care engagement activities. Syphilis partner services presents an opportunity to interact with a large, often hard-to-reach, population of MSM at high risk of HIV acquisition, and can be used to reduce health disparities among these individuals.
Integrating HIV testing and other high-impact HIV prevention activities (such as PrEP referral or HIV care engagement activities) into syphilis partner services improves the efficiency of both STD and HIV programs. The Mississippi State Department of Health was able to interact with a large number of individuals with HIV or at high risk of HIV acquisition as a result of syphilis partner services. Capitalizing on these opportunities is critical to preventing HIV transmission and breaking the silos between health department STD and HIV programs.
A substantial number of HIV negative partners of syphilis index case patients identified through syphilis partner services did not receive an HIV test as part of partner services. More research is needed to understand the programmatic and individual barriers to HIV testing and to identify strategies to improve HIV testing rates. In addition, further research is needed to evaluate the potential impact of integrating PrEP referrals and HIV care engagement activities into STD partner services.
Here is the resource page for this webinar