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Who declines to give a name in a sexual health service?
  1. Heidi C Spillane (heidi_spillane{at}
  1. Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Australia
    1. Anna M McNulty (anna.mcnulty{at}
    1. Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Australia
      1. Handan Wand (hwand{at}
      1. National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Australia
        1. Kate Tribe (kate{at}
        1. Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Australia
          1. Basil Donovan (bdonovan{at}
          1. National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Australia


            Objective: To characterise patients who decline to provide a surname at a public sexual health centre.

            Methods: A case-control study of all patients first attending the Sydney Sexual Health Centre from 1998 to 2004, using proforma-collected electronic data to compare patients who did not provide a surname with those who did. In addition, the frequencies of the 10 most common surnames in the Sydney telephone directory were compared with the frequency of those names in the patient database.

            Results: Among 27,241 patients, 1,350 (5%) declined to provide a surname. Most common surnames were also over-represented, suggesting aliases remained pervasive among the Centre's patients. Sex workers, married people, and people requesting HIV, hepatitis or sexually transmissible infection (STI) screening were all more likely to decline to provide a surname. By contrast, patients with symptoms, patients that were referred with a prior STI diagnosis and patients with a new bacterial or non-HIV viral STI or were a known contact with STI were all significantly more likely to provide a surname. Among patients who declined to provide a surname, 20 tested HIV positive.

            Conclusion: The anonymous option didn't appear to eliminate the use of aliases. Though limited, there appears to be a market for anonymous sexual health screening, particularly for the asymptomatic.

            • anonymity
            • confidentiality
            • health care seeking
            • sexually transmitted infections
            • stigma

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