Background: Public health partner notification (PN) services currently affect only a small minority of patients with gonorrhea or chlamydial infection and new approaches to PN are needed.
Objectives: To expand PN for gonorrhea and chlamydial infection to private sector patients and to assess the feasibility of treating sex partners through commercial pharmacies.
Methods: Selected patients were offered PN assistance and were randomly offered medication to deliver to their partners.
Results: Providers permitted the health department to contact 3613 (91%) of 3972 potentially eligible patients, and 1693 (67%) of 2531 successfully contacted patients consented to interview. Of these, 1095 (65%) reported at least one untreated partner. Most patients (90%) wished to notify partners themselves. Patients were more likely to have partners who had not yet been treated and to request PN assistance if they had more than one sex partner in the preceding 60 days or a partner they did not anticipate having sex with in the future. These two factors characterized 49% of all patients interviewed, 70% of those with a partner that was untreated 7 or more days after index patient treatment, and 83% of those accepting PN assistance. Among 458 randomly selected patients with untreated partners at time of study interview, 346 (76%) agreed to deliver treatment to a partner. Of these, most (266) chose to obtain medication for a partner at a pharmacy, of whom 223 (84%) successfully did so.
Conclusion: A substantial minority of private sector patients have untreated partners more than 7 days after their own treatment; some need help with PN, but most will agree to deliver medication to partners themselves.