Reducing HIV/STDs in Western New York with Embedded Partner Services
Special Projects Fund
September 28, 2017
Western New York, including areas such as Buffalo, Rochester, Erie, Monroe, and Jamestown, is experiencing a noticeable increase in cases of HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
African Americans and Hispanics are the most heavily affected; in the region, 70% of people newly diagnosed with HIV and 49% newly diagnosed with syphilis are people of color. Similarly, the greatest burden of gonorrhea and chlamydia is seen among people of color in Western New York. While the overall number of newly diagnosed people living with HIV has decreased by 25% since 2010, the region surrounding Buffalo and Rochester saw increases in new HIV diagnoses between 2014 and 2015. In Erie County, a total of 120 residents were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2015, 20% higher than the 2011–2014 annual average. In 2017, NYHealth awarded Health Research, Inc., a grant to address the increasing HIV/STD morbidity in Western New York through the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
Under this grant, NYSDOH piloted an Embedded Partner Services (EPS) program. EPS is an expansion of the traditional Partner Services program, which identifies the sexual or needle-sharing partners of people newly diagnosed with HIV/STDs, confidentially notifies them of their potential exposure, and links infected individuals and their partners to prevention resources and medical treatment. NYSDOH adapted the traditional Partner Services model by training staff of community-based organizations (CBOs) to conduct Partner Services directly at the point of care. Although Partner Services is a well-established and effective intervention, there was a limited number of State or county staff prepared to offer the program in New York. By embedding these functions within diagnosing CBOs and clinics, NYSDOH increased its ability to identify cases and extend its reach into the highest-need communities. NYSDOH deputized staff at two pilot sites to provide training on how to deliver the core EPS intervention to a minimum of 200 newly diagnosed individuals and 100 partners over the grant period.