Provider referral: how does this work in the clinical setting?

The index person may ask for a health professional to take on the responsibility of informing his or her sexual partners of the need for them to seek HIV testing.

Experienced health-care workers with a good understanding of HIV and who use sensitivity and common-sense in their practice should be able to discuss partner notification with their index clients.

Health professionals who do not have extensive experience in partner notification can request support, advice, and information from experts who work in this area. There are health-care workers in each Australian state, as well as other countries, who undertake partner notification work on a full-time basis.  Details of these workers can be obtained usually through a local public health unit of a government health department or via an internet search of local sexual health services. The health professional does not need to know the full name and contact details of every partner for partner notification to be carried out successfully.  Partner notification can be completed with limited information, such as a first name and a mobile phone number of the partner. Sometimes, even just a first name and an address, or work location, or details of where the named person can be found is sufficient.

However, the index person’s health-care provider may not feel comfortable undertaking partner notification on behalf of the index person or may not have enough time available to do the work themselves. In this case, partner notification officers or contact tracers may take on the task.