What are Partner Services?
HIV Partner Services (PS), previously known as "HIV Partner Counseling and Referral Services" and "HIV Partner Notification", assist persons with HIV infection in notifying their sexual and/or needle-sharing partners of the partner's possible exposure to HIV.
State law requires that all cases of HIV infection and AIDS are reported to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (DPH). State law authorizes and requires the DPH and local health department (LHD) staff to conduct surveillance, follow-up and other public health activities in order to manage and control communicable diseases. The State Epidemiologist in the Wisconsin DPH has officially designated LHDs to assist the DPH in conducting disease control activities, including HIV PS. The Wisconsin AIDS/HIV Program, located in the DPH, coordinates PS activities, and services are provided by local health department (LHD) staff.
All services that are part of PS are voluntary, client-centered, and strictly confidential.
Who reports HIV and AIDS cases to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health and what happens after reports are submitted?
HIV and AIDS cases are reported to the DPH by several individuals and groups, including private physicians, HIV testing sites, prison health services, and blood and plasma centers. The Wisconsin AIDS/HIV Program receives these reports, records them confidentiality, and forwards them to the PS Coordinator in the Wisconsin AIDS/HIV Program who then assigns cases to a LHD PS provider for follow-up.
Who is eligible to receive HIV PS?
Anyone who tests positive for HIV can receive PS, including persons who test confidentially (with their name identified) as well as those test anonymously (without a name identified).
What services are provided by PS staff?
A PS staff member from the LHD first contacts a person with HIV infection (the client) and requests to meet with them. The PS provider talks with the client, helps identify the client's needs, and assists them in connecting to HIV-related services.
The PS provider encourages the client to discuss the client's sex and/or needle-sharing partners, including details about how to identify and locate partners in order to inform them of their possible exposure to HIV. PS staff who contact a client's partners do so in a manner that does not disclose a client's identity to any partners. When talking with partners, a PS provider will discuss HIV prevention and will offer HIV testing services, either onsite or by referring the partner to an agency that provides HIV testing.
What are the ways that sexual and needle-sharing partners might be notified of their possible exposure to HIV?
When meeting with a person with HIV infection, PS staff identify several ways sexual and needle-sharing partners can be told about their possible exposure to HIV. These include:
- A PS provider can notify partners confidentially without disclosing the infected person's identity.
- A person with HIV infection can notify their partners directly.
- A person with HIV infection and the PS provider can jointly notify partners.
- A person with HIV infection can first try notifying their partners and a PS provider can notify those partners who were not contacted.
- Service providers other than LHD PS staff (e.g., a person's health care provider) can notify partners.
How can I obtain PS?
If you are a person with HIV infection and would like assistance in notifying sex and/or needle-sharing partners of their possible exposure to HIV, here is a listing of PS providers (PDF, 44 KB), or call the PS Coordinator in the Wisconsin AIDS/HIV Program at 608-267-5288. Service providers who would like to refer their clients for PS are encouraged to access services in this same manner.