Initial evaluation of use of an online partner notification tool for STI, called ‘suggest a test’: a cross sectional pilot study

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Abstract

Objectives

Partner notification is crucial for sexually transmitted infection (STI) control. We developed Suggestatest.nl (SAT), an internet-based notification system for verified diagnoses of STI/HIV.

Methods

SAT uses email, short message service, postal letter or a gay dating site to notify sexual contacts. SAT was piloted at the Public Health STI clinics in two major cities in the Netherlands. We evaluated SAT from March to July 2012 by analysing SAT notifications linked with epidemiological data. Determinants for SAT use were assessed using multivariable logistic regression analysis.

Results

Of 988 index clients receiving a SAT code, overall 139 (14%) notified through SAT, sending 505 notifications (median 2), 84% by text messaging and 15% by email; 88% non-anonymously. Of those intending to use SAT, 23% notified with SAT. Intention to use SAT was the only independent determinant of SAT use in heterosexuals and men who have sex with men. Among the 67 SAT users in Rotterdam, 56% (225/402) of their partners at risk were contactable, and 95% (213/225) of those were notified using SAT. 58% of SAT-notified partners accessed the SAT-website and 20% of them subsequently consulted the STI clinics. STI positivity in partners was lower in those notified by SAT (28% (32/116)) than in those with contact cards (45% (68/152); p<0.001).

Conclusions

Although the challenges posed by non-contactable partners are not solved by SAT, it is a valuable novel tool for notification of verified STI diagnoses by index patients and providers. In addition to current standard partner notification practice it suits a small number of clients, especially those reporting more than one partner.

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