STD notification service?
May 9, 2005 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Is there a service that will, either through the internet or snail mail or even via telephone, notify your previous sex partners that you may have given them a sexually transmitted disease?

A friend just called me; she went to the clinic today and her initial test for STDs came back positive for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and something that starts with a "T" (I'd never heard the name before). While she waits for the results of the second (and hopefully more reliable/accurate) test, she's thinking about what will happen if she has to notify all the people she's been with in the past few months. Is there a service that will do this for her anonymously? Google led me to one called InSpot but their services are intended for gay men who reside in San Francisco, not straight women in the south east.
posted by Clay201 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
 
Probably trichomoniasis? by the by
posted by peacay at 12:07 PM on May 9, 2005


If you don't find a service, she can certainly leave anonymous messages herself, can't she? Through a friend, via anonymous phone call or email?

That said, is she certain she can't handle telling them herself, via email or phone? The initial shame can be terrible, sure, but it is possible to work through it, and she's hardly the first person to ever find herself in this situation. It sucks, but it's nothing to go hide under a rock over. Something to think about as she deals with getting an STD diagnosis.
posted by mediareport at 12:17 PM on May 9, 2005


It's your county health department's job to notify partners if you want them to - contact your local STD program office and tell them that you want help with partner notification. Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) are highly trained professionals who do this with utter confidentiality.
posted by tristeza at 12:22 PM on May 9, 2005


I remember seeing a billboard in the castro for a service similar to what you're looking for: apparently it's called INSpot. it's possible it's sf/gay-centric but it might work out.
posted by fishfucker at 12:42 PM on May 9, 2005


damnit. that's what i get for not reading the more inside.

sorry.
posted by fishfucker at 12:43 PM on May 9, 2005


i know i've seen an anonymous email service that does this if you provide the email address, i just can't seem to find it
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 12:46 PM on May 9, 2005


I strongly oppose the recommendations about anonymous e-mailing services: I don't see how you can use an anonymous service, especially e-mail based, for something as important as telling a former sexual partner that their health may be in danger. If I got an e-mail saying "you might have Gohnorrhea" I'd hit the spam button without opening it.

If tristeza's suggestion is available, use it. If your friend is having trouble breaking the news to these people, then finding a resource is important- but given the circumstances, nothing seems more important than making sure her former partners are aware of the danger both them and their current partners are in, and that should be taken into consideration.

Granted, your friend should be commended for having the nobility to try and let people know about this at all, just pointing out that if she's going to tell her former partners it shouldn't be ambiguous- anonymous notifications that someone might have given them a disease seems somewhat counterproductive.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:15 PM on May 9, 2005


It's important that the people who were exposed to the STDs know WHEN the exposure took place- for this reason, the anonymous route doesn't sound good to me at all.

Because let's say I get an anonymous message that says "you were exposed to STDs" well then, how am I supposed to notify the right partner/s if I don't know when it happened? And if I got a message that said "you were exposed to STDs in January 2004" wouldn't I then know who this "anonymous sender" was?

I mean, STDs are embarrassing, but they happen to the best of us. Looking for some kind of anonymous solution further stigmatizes the problem, I think.

(Hope my thoughts made sense- my head is swimming in benadryl!)
posted by elisabeth r at 1:24 PM on May 9, 2005


What tristeza said.

It's in the public interest to have a way for individuals who may have been exposed to be notified - so those individuals get tested, treated if possible, and don't continute to unknowingly expose more people to the disease. STD agencies recognize that anonymity greatly increases the number of people that will get notified, so many jurisdictions have this service free of charge.

Your friend should ask the people who give her the test results if there is a program like this in her area. If they don't have helpful answers, try contacting AIDS organizations in your area - they would be able to point you in the right direction. I see you're in Alabama - if she is too, this AIDS outreach page should help you find local organizations to contact that can help.

And consider what XQUZYPHYR & elisabeth are saying. A phone call from an actual person that they know would be more helpful to the person recieving the news, and some would be more likely to take it seriously. But if she's not willing to consider this, anonymous notification is much preferrable to none.
posted by raedyn at 1:32 PM on May 9, 2005


The Hassle-Free Clinic here in Toronto does it very simply, confidentially, and professionally. "Hello. My name is XXX from the Hassle-Free. Someone you had sexual contact with in the past [X time, which will vary depending on the disease, when you were last tested, etc] has tested positive for _______. We need to schedule an appointment to have you checked out."

Simple and effective. Public Health handles it all.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:51 PM on May 9, 2005


XQ makes a good point - such an e-mail would likely be routed by most spam filters.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:35 PM on May 9, 2005


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