Public Health, Privacy, and Politics

HIV Partner Notification

by Andrea K. Biddle-Zehnder


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This Note examines the adoption and implementation of partner notification programs for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection, using programs in four sites as illustrative cases. Specifically, it describes how health departments in three states adopted and implemented partner notification programs for HIV infection, chronicling the implementation process and outcomes to date. It also attempts to identify factors that may have influenced the implementation processes in each of the sites. California, Colorado, and Connecticut were selected to represent a spectrum of developmental stages, environmental profiles, and preventive approaches. The findings indicate that the four programs operate in relatively different epidemiologic and legislative environments, and as a consequence, have developed through different implementation processes. The differences in implementation result primarily from (1) the level and source of commitment to partner notification within the public health bureaucracy and (2) the degree of organization within groups opposed to the partner notification program.

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