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Local and worldwide governments consider e-mail STD notification program (16380)

16380Health News2005-06-29

Local and worldwide governments consider e-mail STD notification program

An e-mail notification program launched by the San Francisco health department last year that allows gay men to alert their sex partners that they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease is drawing attention from local governments around the country--and even some foreign nations that are considering adopting the service, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Called InSPOT (Internet Notification Service for Partners or Tricks), the San Francisco program allows gay men to send "e-cards" to up to six e-mail addresses at a time that warn recipients who may want to be screened for STDs. The e-mails can be signed or sent anonymously. The program allows users, rather than health department staff, to alert other gay men that they may have been exposed to one of eight STDs--chlamydia, crabs-scabies, gonorrhea, hepatitis A, molluscum contagiosum, nongonoccochal urethritis, shigella, or syphilis. HIV is not included in the e-mail alert program.

Philadelphia's health department and the city's Mazzoni Center, a gay health clinic, announced this month that they are working together to launch the service in the region. The Indiana health department also plans to create a local version of the program. Officials in Florida, Maryland, New York State--as well as in Romania and British Columbia, Canada--also are considering launching the service.

San Francisco health officials say the service is particularly useful for gay men who meet sex partners on the Internet. Because many gay men diagnosed with an STD have only e-mail addresses or screen names as a way to get in touch with their sex partners, the service is particularly useful in reaching these online contacts, officials say. Recipients of InSPOT e-mails are given information about STD screenings, locations of STD testing centers in the city, locations of gay-friendly clinics, and detailed information about STD prevention, detection, and treatment.

For more information about San Francisco's InSPOT program go online to

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