Ways of notifying contacts
There are different methods by which contacts can be informed:
- In person
- Mobile or home telephone
- Social Media
- Referral to a specialist agency
Studies have shown that, given the nature of information they are relaying most index patients like to notify their partners in person or over the phone. Research has demonstrated improved outcomes in HIV and syphilis notification and subsequent access to testing and treatment using social media.
Referring cases to a local specialist service for support in your Australian state or territory may enhance the outcome.
Note: There may be risks involved when contact tracing by phone/text. It is not uncommon for some people to share phones between multiple users. Make sure a ‘safe’ number is used and the message does not disclose sensitive information.
Resources that are available to support both patients and health care providers to undertake partner notification are listed below.
Resources for Patient Initiated Contact Tracing
|Information on STIs|
|Treatment letter to give to Doctor/ partner/s|
|SMS or Email notification service|
Resources for Provider Initiated Contact Tracing
|STI treatment and management guidelines|
|Treatment letter for patient to give to their partner/s||
|State-based specialist partner notification services||
Victoria: Partner Notification Unit: (03) 9096 3367
NSW: NSW Sexual Health Infolink: (02) 9382 7681
Queensland: HIV Public Health Team: (07) 3328 9797
Northern Territory: Clinic 34: (08) 8999 2678
Western Australia: Metropolitan Communicable Disease Control (08) 9222 8588 OR search your regional population/pubic health unit: https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A E/COntact-details-for-population-public-health-units
South Australia: Adelaide Sexual Health Centre (08) 7117 2800
Tasmania: Tasmania Public Health: (03) 6166 0655
ACT: Canberra Sexual Health Clinic: (02) 6244 2184
New Zealand: Contact your local sexual health service: https://wwwnzshs.org/clinics#greymouth***
*Service for gay and bi-sexual men/men who have sex with men
**Service for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Peoples
***Services in New Zealand
Internet-based Contact Tracing (using Social Media)
Social media, including hook up apps and dating sites (e.g. Facebook, Tumblr, Tinder, Grinder, BarebackRT etc) is a common way for people to find partners for sex. Health care professionals should routinely ask clients whether they have met partners online.
Contact tracing via social media or the internet is performed when there are no alternative ways to inform partners e.g. they only have a username for the contact which may not be a real name. The same legal constraints around privacy, confidentiality and disclosure apply as for any other method of contact tracing.
When the patient performs contact tracing
Give an example of what the patient could say e.g. “Hi XXXX, something unexpected has happened. Please call me on xxxx when you get this message. I need to talk with you.” This helps make the notification more private than disclosing messages online.
When the provider performs contact tracing
- obtain the correct identity or profile name (username), location and a detailed profile description
- refer cases to a local specialist service in your Australian state or territory (see table above) may enhance the outcome and avoid crossing personal and professional boundaries.
National Collaborating Centre for infectious Diseases. Evidence review, New technologies for Partner Notifications for Sexually Transmitted Infections. Canada: NCCID, 2013.
Bernstein K, Get those partners treated, Sex Trans Infect. 2013; 89 (Suppl 1) A40-A41