Clinics should use gay dating sites and apps to tell HIV positive patients’ partners to come in and get tested.
That’s one of the recommendations from Britain’s National AIDS Trust (NAT) which believes steps like that could help cut the number of people who contract HIV.
The NAT’s new report, out today (31 May), looks at ‘partner notification’ and says that when the previous lovers of someone who has tested positive for HIV are invited to get tested themselves, up to 37% of them were diagnosed positive too.
They believe this method could make big inroads into the 25% of people in Britain who have HIV but don’t know it.
And, as diagnosis and treatment help cut transmission rates, that would cut the number of people getting the virus in the long term.
In some cases clinics contact a patient’s partners directly, in others they help the newly diagnosed people to do it themselves.
But at the moment, policies and implementation are ‘patchy’ says NAT.
It recommends clinics using dating apps like Grindr and websites like Gaydar and Manhunt to help notify people.
And NAT wants the gay community to be told about the benefits of partner notification.
Deborah Jack, NAT’s chief executive, said: ‘HIV is still a highly stigmatized condition and this can make it very difficult for a person diagnosed with HIV to share their status with other people, particularly previous sexual partners.
‘We know how effective HIV partner notification can be in getting people who may be at risk tested and diagnosed but it is not clear that this message is well communicated to patients.
‘Most people with HIV, when they understand the benefits of partner notification, are keen to do the right thing but they might not necessarily know how.
‘This report puts the spotlight on why we need to start taking HIV partner notification seriously, as well as the various ways we can shake up and modernize the current system – in order to utilize it as an effective tool for testing, diagnosis and prevention.’