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Medical providers diagnosing patients with sexually transmitted infections (STI) should advise them to notify their sex partners of their diagnosis. This is particularly important for treatable and curable STIs, such as HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydial infection. Medical providers should always attempt to promote partner notification and treatment, even among patients who will receive Public Health partner services.

Public Health Partner Services

Because resources are limited, Public Health only provides partner services to selected populations of persons with STI. These services vary in their content, but focus on trying to ensure that patients and potentially exposed sex partners receive the information and medical treatment they need. Public Health currently provides partner services only to the following populations:

  • Persons with newly diagnosed HIV infection
  • Persons with early syphilis – this includes primary, secondary and early latent syphilis
  • Women of reproductive age with late latent syphilis
  • MSM with gonorrhea and chlamydial infection
  • Heterosexuals with gonorrhea
  • Heterosexuals with untreated chlamydia

Public health does NOT routinely provide partner services to heterosexuals with chlamydial infection.

Partner notification and treatment guidelines for medical providers

Advise patients to notify their partners - Medical Providers should advise patients to notify their sex partners that they need treatment. In all instances, patients should notify that their most recent sex partner. How far back in time patients should go in identifying past partners varies with the STI. Below are general guidelines:

  • Gonorrhea and chlamydial infection – 60 days
  • HIV – 3 months prior to the last HIV negative test
  • Syphilis – At least 90 days prior to date of testing, but varies by stage

Advise persons diagnosed with HIV, early syphilis, gonorrhea and MSM with chlamydia that they may be contacted by the health department.

Ask patients to bring a partner with them to your clinic or office - If you plan to have a patient return to their office or clinic for treatment, when possible ask patients to bring a sex partner with them so that both the patient and their partner can be treated at the same time. While this approach to partner treatment can be effective, providers should not delay patient treatment in an effort to see a patient and their sex partner concurrently.

Don't wait for test results before treating - Providers should treat all potentially exposed sex partners as if they are infected and not wait for laboratory confirmation of infection before providing partners with medical treatment

Offer heterosexuals with gonorrhea or chlamydia expedited partner therapy (EPT) – Medical providers should offer all heterosexuals with gonorrhea or chlamydia EPT if they cannot otherwise assure their patients’ partners treatment. Free EPT medication packets are available to all providers.

Special considerations in MSM

  • Consider HIV Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – MSM with early syphilis or rectal gonorrhea are at high risk for future HIV acquisition. Offer MSM with these STIs PrEP or refer them to another provider for PrEP. (See list of PrEP providers.)
  • Test all MSM with STI for HIV and encourage such men to test for HIV and STIs every 3 months.
  • Ensure that HIV-infected MSM have an HIV medical provider and are on antiretroviral therapy.