HIV and Hepatitis Update - March 2017
HIV NEWS: Communities deliver HIV partner notification services in Kenya
Kenya has a high HIV burden, but is recognized for its successful national HIV programme. One of the country’s key achievements has been improved and decentralized HIV testing services (HTS), from health clinics to communities.
LVCT Health is one example of a community-based programme revitalizing HIV testing and care in Kenya. The organization delivers HIV testing, prevention, care and treatment services to the general population, key populations and adolescents.
In December 2015, LVCT launched a pilot programme for assisted partner notification for HIV testing in 2 informal settlements: Mlolongo and Kawangware in Nairobi, the country's capital.
As part of this programme, lay counsellors offering HTS in communities – i.e. through community clinics, outreach programmes or door-to-door testing – used the “voluntary contract referral” approach. This is when the HIV-positive client agrees with the health worker to identify their sexual partners and family members. They also identify social contacts from key populations who could benefit from HTS.
The HIV-positive client then agrees to disclose their status to their partners and bring them in for HIV testing within a specific time period. If the partner does not access HIV testing or contact the health provider within the agreed period, the lay provider will contact the partner directly to offer voluntary HIV testing and counselling, while maintaining the anonymity of the HIV-positive client.
From inception till May 2016, the LVCT programme has achieved impressive results. Of the 341 clients who tested HIV-positive, 205 (60%) chose to use assisted partner notification. These clients identified 580 partners/contacts, of whom 331 (57%) returned for testing.
Of all tested partners and contacts, 116 (35%) were diagnosed HIV positive: 104 (90%) adults and 12 (10%) children. Of these diagnosed people, 106 (91%) were enrolled in early treatment and care as a result of the LVCT programme.
People’s knowledge of their own, and their partners’, HIV status is essential to the success of the global HIV response. On World AIDS Day 2016, WHO published “Guidelines on HIV self-testing and partner notification: supplement to consolidated guidelines on HIV testing services”. These guidelines stress the crucial importance of offering assisted partner notification as part of comprehensive HTS.