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Electronic Postcards Allow Partner Notification of STDs

Web site allows convenient and anonymous notification

TUESDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- People infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can notify their partners of potential exposure conveniently and anonymously via electronic postcards, according to an article published online Oct. 21 in PLoS Medicine.

Deb Levine, from Internet Sexuality Information Services in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues describe an online e-card service, inSPOT, which is used to notify sexual partners of their potential exposure to an STD. The service was developed after consultation with men who were sexually active with other men and subsequently updated to include heterosexuals.

In the Tell Them section of the inSPOT Web site, the user chooses one of six e-cards, types in up to six recipient e-mail addresses, selects an STD from a pull-down menu, types in their own e-mail address or remains anonymous, and types in an optional personal message. Since the site was launched in 2004 in San Francisco and other locations, more than 30,000 people have sent over 49,500 e-cards and over 750 people visit the site each day, with an average of 1.6 recipients per card. About half of the cards were notifications for gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and chlamydia.

"Future research efforts should be directed towards comprehensive evaluation to establish the effectiveness of inSPOT in increasing STD partner notification and testing and to assess its impact on reducing disease transmission," Levine and colleagues conclude.

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