Strategies for partner notification for sexually transmitted diseases
RHL practical aspects by Volmink J
Partner notification is an important strategy for reducing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Partner notification also creates opportunities for STI/HIV education. It should form part of a comprehensive STI/HIV prevention programme.
FIRST CONTACT (PRIMARY CARE) LEVEL
Primary care providers should take time to educate STI/HIV patients about the importance of informing partners about the need for treatment. Patient referral—i.e. the patient notifying his/her partner(s)—can be facilitated by the use of special cards given to the patient to hand to his/her sex partner(s). Referral cards can help providers to diagnose and treat the partners promptly, when they present themselves at the clinic. These cards can be designed to allow clinics to estimate the percentage of index patients who actually refer their partners to the health services.
REFERRAL HOSPITAL (SECONDARY CARE) LEVEL
Although partner notification will most often be implemented at the primary care level, it can also take place at referral centres. The usual principles of partner notification— voluntary participation, confidentiality, accessibility, quality assurance and minimizing harm—should be applied regardless of the level of care.
AT HOME OR IN THE COMMUNITY
STD/HIV programmes that maintain a good relationship with their patients and communities at risk will achieve greater patient compliance and ultimately greater public health success.
This document should be cited as: Volmink J. Strategies for partner notification for sexually transmitted diseases: RHL practical aspects (last revised: 11 November 2002). The WHO Reproductive Health Library; Geneva: World Health Organization.