Yale University

Project C.O.A.C.H.: Counseling Others About Contacts and Exposures with HIV

Principle Investigator(s):

Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Project period: 07/01/2011 - 06/30/2012
Grant Type: Research

Abstract Text:

Partner Notification, or contact tracing, is the strategy where partners are notified that
they may have been exposed to a particular disease, such as tuberculosis or sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV. Through the efforts of Disease Intervention
Specialists (DIS), the public health authorities trained to perform partner notification,
sexual or needle-sharing partners of HIV-infected individuals are encouraged to seek
testing and then any indicated treatment. This has emerged as an essential strategy to
help identify the estimated 21% of HIV-infected patients that remain unaware of their

Although the rate of newly diagnosed infections among tested partners ranges from 10
to 30%, both national and local experiences, suggest that there are limitations to the
effectiveness of this program. In particular, there is lack of referrals to the program and
the Disease Intervention Specialists have limited success in eliciting partners names
and contact information from men who have sex with men. In order to better inform
this process, qualitative work is needed to understand the barriers to effective partner
notification from the perspectives of the medical case managers, the DIS and men who
have sex with men. We seek to inform this process by collecting data through
qualitative methods, guided by principles of community-based participatory research2
to address the following specific aims:

  • AIM 1: To determine, among medical case managers, the knowledge, experiences and
    attitudes of and barriers to referring for partner notification;
  • AIM 2: To determine, among men who have sex with men, the knowledge, experiences
    and attitudes of and barriers to participating in partner notification;
  • AIM 3: To determine among Disease Intervention Specialists, the knowledge,
    experiences and attitudes of and barriers to conducting partner notification with men
    who have sex with men.