Partner Services Can Reduce HIV Transmission and Related Health Disparities

FEBRUARY 06, 2019
Kristen Coppock, MA, Editor
The disproportionate impact of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and HIV infection on the African-American population in the United States is highlighted each year on February 7, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.1

Coordinated by the Strategic Leadership Council, the goal of the day is to increase HIV community involvement, education, testing, and treatment in African-American communities.2

In 2017, African-Americans represented 13% of the US population but accounted for 44% of all new HIV diagnoses, according to the CDC. 

The rate of new HIV diagnoses for African-Americans was about 8 times that of non-Latino whites, according to the CDC.3

In 2017, African-Americans had the highest rate of new diagnoses of HIV infection in each of the 4 census regions of the country, with the highest overall rate among African-Americans in the South (44.8 per 100,000 population). African-Americans also had the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses among racial/ethnic groups (41.1 per 100,000 population).1

A recent study of CDC-funded partner services indicates that increased effective and implemented efforts could lead to a reduction in HIV incidence and HIV-related inequities. During the 2016 study, researchers interviewed 78% of African-American index patients regarding partner services. Results were recently made public.3

The study found that among African-American partners, fewer than half were tested for HIV infection. New HIV diagnoses were found in 17% of those tested, and 9% were previously infected.3

The prevalence of newly diagnosed HIV infection was particularly high among African-American partners who were bisexual, gay, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals, according to the research.3

The CDC supports a range of efforts to reduce the risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection among African-Americans, according to the agency.1

These include HIV partner services and prevention programs that reduce onward HIV-related health disparities and HIV transmission.3

Partner services is an effective, high-yield strategy for identifying undiagnosed HIV infections and helps address barriers to service. They can include access to support services, linkage to HIV care, prophylactic treatment, reengaging patients with previously diagnosed HIV infection in care, and testing.3


1. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day — February 7, 2019. CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Updated January 31, 2019. Accessed February 4, 2019.

2. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - February 7. CDC. Updated February 4, 2019. Accessed February 6, 2019.

3. HIV partner service delivery among blacks or African Americans — United States, 2016. CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Updated January 31, 2019. Accessed February 4, 2019.