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Partner notification uptake for sexually transmitted infections in China: a systematic literature review
  1. Alberta L Wang1,2,
  2. Rui-Rui Peng1,
  3. Joseph D Tucker3,4,
  4. Myron S Cohen3,
  5. Xiang-Sheng Chen1
  1. 1Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College Institute of Dermatology and National Center for STD Control, Nanjing, China
  2. 2The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
  3. 3Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  4. 4Division of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Xiang-Sheng Chen, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College Institute of Dermatology and National Center for STD Control, 12 Jiangwangmiao Street, Nanjing 210042, China; chenxs{at}


Objective China's sexually transmitted infection (STI) epidemic requires comprehensive control programmes. Partner services are traditional pillars of STI control but have not been widely implemented in China. This study was a systematic literature review to examine STI partner notification (PN) uptake in China.

Methods Four English and four Chinese language databases were searched up to March 2011 to identify articles on PN of STIs including HIV in China. PN uptake was defined as the number of partners named, notified, evaluated or diagnosed per index patient.

Results A total of 11 studies met inclusion criteria. For STI (excluding HIV) PN, a median 31.6% (IQR 27.4%–65.8%) of named partners were notified, 88.8% (IQR 88.4%–90.8%) of notified partners were evaluated and 37.9% (IQR 33.1%–43.6%) of evaluated partners were diagnosed. For HIV PN, a median 15.7% (IQR 13.2%–36.5%) of named partners were notified, 86.7% (IQR 72.9%–90.4%) of notified partners were evaluated and 27.6% (IQR 24.1%–27.7%) of evaluated partners were diagnosed. A mean of 80.6% (SD=12.6%) of patients attempted PN, and 72.4% (IQR 63.8%–81.1%) chose self-referral when offered more than one method of PN. Perceived patient barriers included social stigma, fear of relationship breakdown, uncertainty of how to notify and lack of partner contact information. Perceived infrastructure barriers included limited time and trained staff, mistrust of health workers and lack of PN guidelines.

Conclusion PN programmes are feasible in China. Further research on STI PN, particularly among men who have sex with men and other high-risk groups, is an important public health priority. PN policies and guidelines are urgently needed in China.

  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • HIV
  • partner notification
  • China
  • partner notification
  • health service research
  • AIDS
  • social/policy perspectives
  • social
  • sociology
  • STD
  • STD control
  • epidemiology
  • syphilis

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  • References prefixed with a ‘w’ are available in online appendix 2

  • Funding This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health; Office of the Director; Fogarty International Center; Office of AIDS Research; National Cancer Institute; National Eye Institute; National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute; National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research; National Institute On Drug Abuse; National Institute of Mental Health; and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Health, through the International Clinical Research Fellows Program at Vanderbilt University (R24 TW007988) and the Mega Project of China National Science Research for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2008ZX10001-005).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.