It is important for all sexually active people to get tested for HIV and to learn the HIV status of their sexual partner(s). As a family planning provider, the clients may be mainly or exclusively women. But a woman’s sexual partners can transmit HIV to her, and she can transmit HIV to her sexual partner(s). Partner testing benefits the male partner because he will learn his own HIV status. If he is found to be living with HIV, he can be referred for immediate HIV care and treatment. If he tests negative, he can take measures to remain negative.
Referrals for the following services should be routinely offered:
Partner services: If an adolescent girl or woman tests positive, and she chooses to disclose her status to her partner, the provider can link couples to HIV services and counseling. This is done confidentially and is entirely voluntary. If the client does not wish to disclose her status to her partner, the provider can refer the case to trained HIV testing service personnel to help ensure confidential partner management services, which includes informing her sexual partners that they may have been exposed to HIV and offering them a test without disclosing the woman’s identity. There are benefits to informing male partners about test results and encouraging them to get tested; however, this must always be voluntary.
HIV self-testing (HIVST): Male partners can also learn their status by using an HIVST kit. Some family planning clinics may provide HIVST kits for women to bring to their partners.
Couple testing: One way of encouraging male partner testing is by offering couples testing, in which both members of the couple are counseled and tested at the same time, which may make it easier for them to decide to share their results with each other. Both members must agree to learn their own HIV status and also to have their HIV status disclosed to the other member.
Other important messages about men and HIV transmission:
- If an adolescent boy or man is HIV-negative, he can stay HIV-negative by using condoms and lubricant consistently and correctly or by taking PrEP. His risk of HIV will be reduced if he has only one sexual partner and, if uncircumcised, he accesses voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC).
- If an adolescent boy or man is living with HIV and taking antiretroviral therapy (ART), he will not transmit HIV to his HIV-negative partner as long as his HIV viral load is suppressed. The same is true if an adolescent girl or woman is living with HIV and taking ART, and her partner is HIV-negative.
- ART does not protect against other STIs. To reduce the risk of other STIs, partners should use condoms with lubricant.