Peer Mobilization and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Partner Notification Services Among Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men and Transgender Women in Coastal Kenya Identified a High Number of Undiagnosed HIV Infections

Dijkstra M, Mohamed K, Kigoro A, Mumba T, Mahmoud S, Wesonga A, Mukuria N, Oduor T, Gichuru E, Schim van der Loeff MF, Palmer S, Graham SM, van der Elst EM, Sanders EJ
Open Forum Infect Dis. 2021;8

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BACKGROUND: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) partner notification services (HPN), peer mobilization with HIV self-testing, and acute and early HIV infection (AEHI) screening among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) and transgender women (TGW) were assessed for acceptability, feasibility, and linkage to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) services. METHODS: Between April and August 2019, peer mobilizers mobilized clients by offering HIV oral self-tests and immediate clinic referral for clients with AEHI symptoms. Mobilized participants received clinic-based rapid antibody testing and point-of-care HIV RNA testing. Newly diagnosed participants including those derived from HIV testing services were offered immediate ART and HPN. Partners were recruited through HPN. RESULTS: Of 772 mobilized clients, 452 (58.5%) enrolled in the study as mobilized participants. Of these, 16 (3.5%) were HIV newly diagnosed, including 2 (0.4%) with AEHI. All but 2 (14/16 [87.5%]) initiated ART. Thirty-five GBMSM and TGW were offered HPN and 27 (77.1%) accepted it. Provider referral identified a higher proportion of partners tested (39/64 [60.9%] vs 5/14 [35.7%]) and partners with HIV (27/39 [69.2%] vs 2/5 [40.0%]) than index referral. Of 44 enrolled partners, 10 (22.7%) were newly diagnosed, including 3 (6.8%) with AEHI. All 10 (100%) initiated ART. PrEP was initiated among 24.0% (103/429) mobilized participants and 28.6% (4/14) partners without HIV. CONCLUSIONS: HPN, combined with a peer mobilization-led self-testing strategy and AEHI screening for GBMSM and TGW, appears to be acceptable and feasible. These strategies, especially HPN provider referral, effectively identified undiagnosed HIV infections and linked individuals to ART and PrEP services.