Background Men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW) have increased risk for syphilis and HIV. Partner notification (PN) is an effective strategy to provide early diagnosis and improve treatment outcomes among sexual partners of individuals diagnosed with an STI. We conducted a qualitative study to examine perceptions, experiences, and preferences for PN among Black and Latino MSM and TGW in North Carolina (NC).
Methods We conducted seven focus groups (FG) with 50 purposively sampled participants across four NC counties with high rates of HIV and syphilis. Eligible participants were aged 18–44, identified as Black and/or Latino, had ever had sex with men, and identified as male or a TGW. We used a semi-structured guide to facilitate five groups in English and two in Spanish. We inductively analyzed data after each FG via field notes and team debriefs, organizing field notes in a matrix to identify crosscutting themes, and double-coding transcripts to systematically examine differences and similarities across salient themes.
Results Black males reported more familiarity and experiences with PN than Latino males and Black and Latino TGW. Generally, participants familiar with PN perceived the approach to locating clients as aggressive, while participants unfamiliar with PN viewed its theoretical application positively. All participants worried about personal privacy and stigma, on the part of PN staff or others. Poor communication and feeling harassed by staff during PN characterized negative experiences while empathy, privacy, choice and autonomy, and support with navigating services characterized positive experiences. Participants preferred using PN to notify casual partners but worried PN could antagonize relationships with steady partners.
Conclusion Participants prefer more choice, support and sensitivity in PN. The systematic integration of shared-decision making and service navigation into PN could transform community perceptions and improve the quality and success of PN.
Disclosure No significant relationships.
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