Will they ever call?
February 22, 2011 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Do health departments actually contact potentially infected former partners?

In another question, many people pointed to mandatory reporting protocols and how the medical professionals will handle the making sure former partners are aware of their risk. Over the last year, I was exposed to hep c and tested positive for antibodies, but was amazingly lucky and cleared my infection without serious consequences.

According to this document, The local health jurisdiction was supposed to follow up with me in three days to find out who else had been exposed, who exposed me, counseling me on risks, etc. None of that ever happened.
posted by No1UKnow to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Best answer: Yes, this has happened to me. Both as someone who has tested positive for something and as someone who has been an exposed former partner. In Chicago, for what it's worth.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:37 PM on February 22, 2011

I don't know about Hep C, but there is good follow up around HIV in my area. (St. Louis, MO)
posted by hworth at 12:41 PM on February 22, 2011

The problem is that the system relies on voluntary reporting of sexual partners. I have a friend who is a nurse and she says that many, many people lie through their teeth and claim to have only had one or two sexual partners. Years ago. In college. And they provide bad contact info. They don't tell you about the 4 people they're cheating in their SO with.
posted by fshgrl at 2:31 PM on February 22, 2011

Best answer: I have a friend who used to do this for the local health department. He was good at it in part because he was good about getting people to trust him enough to be honest about their history as well as having the street smarts to function well in the seediest parts of town where he often ventured; he might have to go to a crack house to draw blood from someone exposed to HIV before heading over to the local preacher's house to tell him the choir girl he was fooling around with wasn't so sweet and innocent after all. He had some wild stories (pro tip: if a crack addict offers you a blow job in exchange for all the stuff you didn't sell at your yard sale, tell her no thank you) and enough of a twisted sense of humor that he would send his friends the VD flash cards he carried around as post cards.
posted by TedW at 4:47 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes. A lot depends on your location, but in major urban areas, with some diseases (like HIV and syphilis) the health department will interview people who are newly diagnosed and notify potential partners. When I worked at the Health Department (in the STD/HIV clinic) Hep C was not on the list of diseases we spent time pursuing.
posted by OmieWise at 5:30 AM on February 23, 2011

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