Study Examines E-Cards Used To Alert People of Exposure to HIV, Other STIs
A study published recently in PloS Medicine examines a San Francisco-based program that allows people to send electronic postcards to let sexual partners know they might have been exposed to HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, Reuters reports. The program, called inSPOT, was created by Internet Sexuality Information Services in 2004 to aid in partner notification for STIs, which traditionally has been done via phone, mail or in person through the help of a public health worker.
The Web site offers six different cards that alert the recipients that they might have been exposed to an STI. The cards also provide links with more information about STIs and a map of clinics for testing. The people sending the e-card can use their own e-mail address or send it anonymously, according to Reuters.
The program has expanded beyond the San Francisco area to more than 12 states and has been used by more than 30,000 people, who have sent almost 50,000 e-cards to their sexual partners. The report also said that the percentage of e-card recipients who click on the links differs by city. For example, almost 50% of Idaho recipients click on the links compared with 20% in Los Angeles.
The use of the e-cards "can enhance sexual communication and help with community responsibility and easing a process of disclosure that can be extremely difficult," ISIS Executive Director and co-author of the report Deb Levine said, adding that the e-cards are "one more tool in the toolkit" to reduce the spread of STIs but "do not replace in-person communication" (Norton, Reuters, 10/23).
The study is available online.