Positive Life NSW Blog

Tracing Sexual Contacts

Posted by on in Treatments

Image: close up photograph of a man holding a phone to his ear
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PLNSW Treatments Officer explains why it's important to let your partners know if you've been exposed to an STI, HIV or HCV.

If left untreated, STIs and other infections can have negative impacts on your long term health. The presence of an STI can also increase the risk for getting HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). There are effective treatments for all of these infections now, so it makes sense to get these diagnosed and treated early.

When a person knows they’ve been infected, it is highly unlikely they will knowingly pass one of these to their mates or partners. It is people who don’t know they’re infected, who are at the greatest risk for passing on an STI or one of these viruses.

Depending on your diagnosis and your sexual and drug using circumstances, it is important to let your mates, partners, fuck buddies and/or injecting partners know they’ve possibly been exposed to an STI, HIV or HCV. This is about taking care of you, each other and protecting what has been discussed and negotiated. If there was unprotected sex or the sharing or injecting resources, being aware of possible exposure gives them the power to take control. They’ll be able to stop the progress of the infection, particularly for HIV where there are effective treatments.

Telling your mates and partners takes a lot of courage and none of us look forward to having this conversation. For some it is easier than for others. Some of us feel shame, others are fearful of a reaction we can’t handle. It can mean finding the right time and place to have the conversation, and think through the possible questions and answers. This can feel very overwhelming. If this is a struggle and you want to do the right thing by helping your mates or partner, then getting support to do it, can make it easier.

Positive Life along with a number of other community and public health agencies are developing enhanced contact tracing and peer-led services so people newly diagnosed with HIV can tell as many of their contacts and partners safely and confidently about a possible exposure.

We hope to assist people to find the right balance to ensure the people who may have been put at risk know they need to get tested. This process also ensures that while you’re taking care of your mates, you’re also taken care of. Your confidentiality is maintained and you feel informed and supported within the process.

If you’d like more information on contact tracing from a Positive Life peer, please call our Treatment Officer on 9206 2173 or email davidc@positivelife.org.au

Sexual Health Information Link - www.shil.nsw.gov.au

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