Partner notification (PN) and treatment is a cornerstone of STI prevention. In the U.S., face-to-face, patient-initiated or provider-assisted partner notification has shown to result in approximately 50% of patients referring at least one partner for evaluation and treatment. While to some this percentage is higher than expected, there is considerable room for improvement. A number of developments in the past decade have shown promise in enhancing PN. Expedited partner treatment, i.e., providing medications to partners without an intervening medical consultation, has been proven to decrease re-infections among index patients above and beyond traditional partner notification and this practise is now widely endorsed. Second, the Internet has provided the technical means to enhance communication between providers, patients and their partners that could result in a higher proportion of notified contacts. Internet-based interventions include simple email or text messages to the partner, either directly from the patient or from health-department staff (if agreed to by the index patient), outreach in chat rooms on gay websites, stand-alone online partner notification programmes, and interventions using social networking sites. While the online possibilities appear to be limitless, especially for adolescents who are very engaged in the online environment, there are few interventions that have been formally evaluated. This presentation aims to provide and overview of online programmes for partner services and a review of studies that have attempted to evaluate them. So far, it appears that few online interventions have risen above the “proof-of-concept” and their overall effectiveness may be limited. In addition, a number of studies have indicated that the majority of STI-infected patients prefer to notify their partner in person rather than using text or email messages. While research into effective online interventions for PN and treatment should continue, this must not come to the detriment of high-quality, in-person PN practises.
- partner services
- social media