ObjectiveChina’s sexually transmitted infection (STI) epidemic requires comprehensive control programmes. Partner services are traditional pillars of STI control but have not been widely implemented in China. This study was a systematic literature review to examine STI partner notification (PN) uptake in China.MethodsFour English and four Chinese language databases were searched up to March 2011 to identify articles on PN of STIs including HIV in China. PN uptake was defined as the number of partners named, notified, evaluated or diagnosed per index patient.ResultsA total of 11 studies met inclusion criteria. For STI (excluding HIV) PN, a median 31.6% (IQR 27.4%-65.8%) of named partners were notified, 88.8% (IQR 88.4%-90.8%) of notified partners were evaluated and 37.9% (IQR 33.1%-43.6%) of evaluated partners were diagnosed. For HIV PN, a median 15.7% (IQR 13.2%-36.5%) of named partners were notified, 86.7% (IQR 72.9%-90.4%) of notified partners were evaluated and 27.6% (IQR 24.1%-27.7%) of evaluated partners were diagnosed. A mean of 80.6% (SD=12.6%) of patients attempted PN, and 72.4% (IQR 63.8%-81.1%) chose self-referral when offered more than one method of PN. Perceived patient barriers included social stigma, fear of relationship breakdown, uncertainty of how to notify and lack of partner contact information. Perceived infrastructure barriers included limited time and trained staff, mistrust of health workers and lack of PN guidelines.ConclusionPN programmes are feasible in China. Further research on STI PN, particularly among men who have sex with men and other high-risk groups, is an important public health priority. PN policies and guidelines are urgently needed in China.
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