Study finds that STD e-cards fall short

Talking about STDs with a partner is never easy, but after a person gets diagnosed, it's extremely important for him or her to get in touch with any previous sex partners. The problem is that many people neglect to mention the fact at all. 

In 2004, Internet Sexuality Information Services, a nonproft group, tried something new by creating an STD e-card website, inSPOT.org, in the hopes of boosting the chance that people would notify partners of possible STD infection. The e-card can be sent anonymously and specifies which condition may have been transmitted. The website has become an international and multi-lingual resource since its launch, but its effectiveness is still highly dubious.

To really figure out if the site was accomplishing its intended goal, a study was conducted at the Denver Metro Health Clinic. Patients who entered the facility were given cards with contact information about their partners and the opportunity to use e-cards.

The result was that the use of e-cards was significantly low. Only 6 percent of patients chose to use inSPOT to notify a partner. Eighty-nine percent surveyed said that they would prefer to talk about the STD in person.

"It is important when you find these new technologies, before huge amount of public health dollars are spent, you need to make sure it scales across different populations," study author Mary McFarlane told CNN. "This particular one didn’t scale across the population. It’s important to know why not, so we can do better on the next innovation."

The study was published in May in the scientific journal, Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people should use a condom every time they have sex, because contraceptives can help prevent the spread of STDS.

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