Introduction Since 2000, health departments throughout the US have used new technologies, such as the internet and mobile phones, to enhance the provision of services to persons with a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, and their sex partners, also known as partner services (PS). This study reviewed the published literature to assess changes in partner service outcomes as a result of using technology for PS (tPS) and to calculate cost savings through cases averted.
Methods A systematic literature review of all US studies assessing tPS was conducted in June 2016. Outcome measures were captured and cost savings were calculated, when data were available.
Results Eight studies were identified, published between the years of 2000–2015. The most frequently used measures to evaluate tPS included the number of partners notified, evaluated, screened or tested; and new infections identified. Percentage of partners notified using technology ranged from 17%–64% and percentage evaluated ranged from 18%–26%. Number of new infections identified ranged from 2–19. Total costs saved through new cases averted ranged from US$21 120 to US$42 223. Where calculated, percentage of partners who otherwise would not have been notified was 50%. Texting resulted in more contacts (77%, 69%, 41%, p<0.0001) and quicker median response times (57.5 min - 1 day) than traditional partner services or using the internet.
Conclusion Data and outcome measures across the studies were not standardised, making it difficult to make generalizable conclusions. Where tPS was used, programs found increases in the number of partners notified, including those who otherwise would not have been notified, tested and treated. New infections were also identified. Improved response times and time to treatment were also seen as was re-engagement into care for previous HIV positive patients. Although not a replacement for traditional PS, tPS enhances PS outcomes.
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