Partner Notification

Bernard Gilliard
State DIS Consultant
(803) 898-0452

Rationale and Description

Partner services are a broad array of services offered to persons with HIV infection, syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydial infection and their partners. A critical function of partner services is partner notification, a process through which infected persons are interviewed to elicit information about their partners, who can then be confidentially notified of their possible exposure or potential risk. Other functions of partner services include prevention counseling, testing for HIV and other STDs (not necessarily limited to the aforementioned STDs), hepatitis screening and vaccination, treatment or linkage to medical care, linkage or referral to other prevention services, and linkage or referral to other services (e.g., reproductive health services, prenatal care, substance abuse treatment, social support, housing assistance, legal and mental health services). Confidential partner services are offered statewide by public health professionals known as Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) who assist STD/HIV- infected individuals in identifying, locating, notifying and referring their sex and needle-sharing partners in order to interrupt disease propagation. Clinical evaluation and treatment of sex partners may be necessary to prevent adverse health outcomes. HIV case detection through partner services is critical to link people living with HIV to services that may prolong and improve their lives. Linkage to care has also proven to be an effective strategy in reducing HIV transmission. Private medical providers managing patients with newly diagnosed HIV or early syphilis are encouraged to promote partner services.

Legal Authority

South Carolina State law (SECTION 44‑29‑90) requires the following:

State, district, county, and municipal health officers, in their respective jurisdictions, when in their judgment it is necessary to protect the public health, shall make examination of persons infected or suspected of being infected with a sexually transmitted disease, require persons infected with a sexually transmitted disease to report for treatment appropriate for their particular disease provided at public expense, and request the identification of persons with whom they have had sexual contact or intravenous drug use contact, or both…. To the extent resources are available to the Department of Health and Environmental Control for this purpose, when a person is identified as being infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus which causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), his known sexual contacts or intravenous drug use contacts, or both, must be notified but the identity of the person infected must not be revealed.....

The Ryan White CARE Reauthorization Act of 1996 Public Law 104-146, Section 8 (a), requires that any State receiving Ryan White Title II funding take administrative or legislative action to require a good faith effort be made to notify current and former spouses of known HIV-infected patients of possible exposure.

For additional information on partner services, please follow the CDC link below:


Health HIV & STDs Infectious Diseases