Let’s talk about communication and partnerships. In all good and healthy relationships there must be an open line of communication, because after all, communication is lubrication! Unfortunately there is not enough communication happening between partners and it’s affecting the reportable data for the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This is because when an individual contracts certain STIs, the clinicians that worked with the individual are required to report the STI incident to the City Health Department. However, although one infected individual’s STI occurrence gets reported, the partners that are potentially infected are harder to report.
Firstly, there are reportable and non-reportable STIs. The reporting conditions of an STI are based on severity, transmissibility, and the difference reporting the infection would make on health or reducing transmission. The reportable STIs include the following: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, chancroid, pelvic inflammatory disease, Hepatitis B and C, HIV, and AIDS. Although the information of the STI report flows from the provider to the city health department to state health department, and finally to the CDC data warehouse, the information is often not complete and useful. Often information regarding partner treatment is left unfilled as well as basic demographic information on ethnicity and age.
One of the most important goals is to reduce the amount of transmissibility as well as reducing overall health risks to the community. One of the simplest ways to do this is to communicate honestly and openly to partners! However, many of the people infected are uncomfortable in speaking to their partners about infection and this often causes reinfection from the same partners. There are many ways around direct partner communication such as patient referrals through the clinic which will notify the partner on the infected individual’s behalf and even anonymous online services! The newest and most rapid growing method of partner referrals are through expedited partner treatment (EPT) in which the clinician gives bags of treatment for the STI for the individuals to treat their partners directly. The purpose in this anonymous treatment is to encourage a higher rate of treatment in partners to overall reduce transmissibility. EPT currently is legal with chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomonas treatment!
There are so many ways to get your partners treated and with new partner management options available that are anonymous there are more options for people not in situations where open communication is a safe option. Although the preferred option is always to encourage partners to get tested and quickly inform partners of potential risks. I encourage all people to always build a strong and open communication at the beginning with their partners so that direct partner referrals and expedited partner treatment become more of a norm to reduce reinfections.