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Contacts of STIs

Contacts of Sexually Transmitted Infections

A contact is somebody who has had sex (oral, vaginal or anal) with a partner who has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. It is important that contacts are informed and treated to minimise the risk of health problems and reduce the spread of infection. If you have been diagnosed with an infection then your recent partners will need to be informed and treated. If somebody has told you they have been diagnosed with an infection then you will need to access treatment and a test to ensure you are not at risk.

A partner told me they have an infection. What should I do?

If a partner has told you they have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection it is important that you get either treatment or attend a sexual health clinic for a test. Your options will depend on what type of infection you may have been in contact with.

Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, NSU or PID

You may be given appropriate treatment on attendance, which is usually a course of antibiotics. You will also have a routine sexual health screen done.

HIV

If you have had sex with somebody in the last 72 hours who has recently tested positive for HIV, you should attend a sexual health clinic to discuss PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis), which can prevent you developing the infection.

Further information on PEP

If you have had sex with somebody more than 72 hours ago who has recently tested positive for HIV, then you should have an HIV blood test one month following the last sexual encounter with that person.

Hepatitis B

You should attend a sexual health clinic at the first opportunity. You may be offered a vaccination to prevent you from developing the infection, or you may need to be tested depending on how long it has been since your last sexual contact with that partner.

Herpes simplex virus or Genital warts

Contacts of Herpes simplex virus or genital warts do not generally need treatment.  If you are pregnant and a contact of Genital herpes you should discuss this with your midwife.  If you have symptoms you should attend a sexual health clinic.  If you do not have symptoms and want to have a test for STIs you can order Postal Kits here.

I have been diagnosed with an infection. How do I tell partners?

If you have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection it is important to inform anybody you have had recent sexual contact with. Usually, these include:

  • Anybody in the last 6 months if you have no symptoms.
  • Anybody in the last 3 months if you have symptoms.

These timeframes can change depending on circumstances, which the health professional will advise you about. When you attend clinic, the Health Adviser will ask you about partners and take some details about them. This is strictly confidential and allows us to ensure everyone who needs treatment is able to access it. The Health Adviser can discuss with you the most appropriate ways to broach the topic with partners.

We encourage all patients to inform their sexual partners themselves. This can be face to face, a phone call or a simple message. It’s very important that partners are informed so that they can access adequate treatment to prevent any health problems. It will also help prevent the spread of infection.

In some cases, the Health Adviser may offer partner notification services. This is an anonymous service in which we inform the contact that they may have an infection and to encourage them to attend for testing and treatment. This is completely confidential, although we will require some personal details in order to contact them.

We encourage patients to inform partners in an understanding and considerate way. Consider the following:

  • Try not to place any blame. “I gave you” or “You gave me” is negative and implies intent. Most STIs are transmitted without either partner knowing they have an infection.
  • It’s good that you got a check-up in the first place and that by telling them you are looking out for their health.
  • Imagine you were in the same situation. If you had a potentially harmful infection, it is likely you would want to know so you could access treatment.

I’ve received a call from the clinic telling me I may have an infection. Why?

You may receive a phone call in which you are informed you may be at risk of an infection. If you receive this call, then it is important you attend a sexual health clinic for testing and treatment. This is because somebody has named you as a sexual contact and they have been diagnosed with an infection.

Sometimes that person may not wish to make it known what the infection is. In this case, you should attend a clinic for a full sexual health screen. Every patient has the right to confidentiality and for this reason we cannot give details on who provided us your information.

We treat your personal details with the utmost respect and never pass them on to any other services. Your name and phone number are used exclusively to allow us to contact you for your healthcare requirement.

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