To Notify or Not to Notify: STD Patients' Perspectives of Partner Notification in Seattle

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Background and Objectives: To obtain patients' perspectives on why only some partners are notified in partner-notification programs, the cornerstone of sexually transmitted disease (STD) control, although low proportions of partners are located and evaluated.

Goals: To describe patterns of partner notification reported by persons with STD infection.

Study Design: In-depth interviews conducted in Seattle with 60 heterosexual men and women with gonorrhea, chlamydial infection, or nongonoccocal urethritis, and 19 men with gonorrhea reporting sex with men (MSM) were tape recorded, transcribed verbatim, and content analyzed.

Results: The typical notification pattern was to notify a main partner but not others. Least likely to be notified were partners perceived as transmitters, contacts preceding the onset of symptoms, the oral sex and anonymous contacts of MSM, one-time partners of men, and incarcerated and former partners of women. Fears among young heterosexual participants included gossip and violence (women). Fears among MSM included rejection.

Conclusions: Partner-notification programs should develop innovative approaches for partners perceived as transmitters, oral-sex only contacts of MSM, and contacts preceding symptom onset.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, v. 27, issue 4, p. 193-200