Background Learning where people have met their sexual partners has previously been acknowledged as a way of identifying key locations that are functional to sexually transmitted infection transmission.
Aims To gather local data on where patients diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV, trichomonas and hepatitis B have met their partners. This is the first stage of an on-going project which aims to develop a more targeted health promotion intervention(s) for key locations in Bristol identified as being important for STI transmission. The ultimate aim is that this intervention(s) will contribute to a reduction in STI transmission rates and therefore STI prevalence(s) in Bristol.
Method Patients were asked where they met their sexual partners during all health adviser partner notification interviews conducted in 2011. 2052 interviews were conducted and data were collected from 1257 patients.
Results Across all patients, the most regularly cited meeting place was in a bar or club (29%) This was followed by “through friends/ old friends” (28%). 12% met their sexual contacts via the internet. The most common mode of meeting contacts in heterosexual patients was via friends (31%) while for gay men it was via the internet (36%).
Discussion The data provides the names of key locations in Bristol and a number of internet sites that are important for transmission. These locations can now be targeted by health promotion and outreach work in order to contribute to a reduction in STI transmission and prevalence. Over a quarter of all sexual contacts were met via friends or they were a friend of the patient. It is likely that the perception of STI risk diminishes if a contact is known or if they share the same social network. As well as targeting locations and internet sites, further research is now needed to explore patient's perception of STI risk, alongside health promotion work that highlights potential misperceptions.
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