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Incorporating a social networking approach to enhance contact tracing in a heterosexual outbreak of syphilis
  1. G Ogilvie1,
  2. L Knowles1,
  3. E Wong2,
  4. D Taylor1,
  5. J Tigchelaar1,
  6. C Brunt1,
  7. L James1,
  8. J Maginley1,
  9. H Jones1,
  10. M L Rekart1
  1. 1Division of STD/AIDS Control, BC Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2Surveillance and Risk Assessment Division, Health Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Gina Ogilvie MD MSc
 STD/AIDS Control, BCCDC, 655 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4R4, Canada;


Objective: This report describes the outcomes of a social networking approach (SNA) in a heterosexually transmitted syphilis epidemic by street nurses in British Columbia, Canada.

Methods: Street nurses used SNA interviewing cues, environmental observation, peer outreach, serial interviewing, conducted blood tests, and offered treatment on the street. Rates of cases of syphilis identified by outreach nurses and cases linked to another case were compared before and after adoption of an SNA.

Results: SNA resulted in a significantly increased proportion of cases identified by the street nurses (p = 0.01) and increased the percentage of cases linked to a previous case (p = 0.03).

Conclusion: This preliminary study confirms that SNA can increase the number of cases and contacts identified in an epidemic of a sexually transmitted disease in a vulnerable, hard to reach population.

  • BCCDC, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control
  • MSM, men who have sex with men
  • PW, peer outreach workers
  • SNA, social networking approach
  • STW, sex trade workers
  • social networking
  • contact tracing
  • syphilis

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