Disclosure assistance (PCRS)
After more than 20 years of the HIV epidemic, with advances in treatment and increases in understanding and acceptance of HIV, getting an HIV+ diagnosis still can be a traumatic experience. HIV+ persons must come to terms with their own infection and be concerned with possible infection in past and future partners. Talking to partners about HIV is especially hard because even though it is a manageable disease, HIV still is not curable. Disclosure assistance services (also known as partner counseling and referral services or PCRS) are an array of voluntary and confidential services available to persons living with HIV and their exposed sex and/or needle-sharing partner(s). Disclosure assistance is cost effective and can play a critical role in identifying those individuals most at risk for HIV infection, and linking those who are infected to early medical care and treatment. Most HIV+ persons make the decision to disclose or not disclose to their partners on their own. But HIV+ persons may want support for telling their partners about HIV, whether by encouragement for self-disclosure or by having someone who is well-trained carefully and confidentially notify a partner for them. In one study, persons who received disclosure assistance were over three times more likely to have informed a partner of their risk. In the past few years, HIV counseling and testing programs across the US have shifted their emphasis from testing anyone, to finding and testing persons at greatest risk for HIV infection. At general HIV testing sites, around 1% of clients tested are found to be HIV+, whereas 8-39% of clients tested through disclosure assistance are found to be HIV+.