blog 151208 partnernotification

Partner notification (otherwise known as ‘contact tracing’) is the process of informing or notifying people of their potential exposure to HIV or another sexually transmitted infection (STI) so that they can be offered testing, counselling, and treatment if they need it.

It’s not easy.

It’s usually difficult and sometimes embarrassing to have that chat with a friend, lover or fuck buddy, to tell them you’ve been diagnosed with an STI and that they might also need to be tested for an STI. While STIs are a risk for anyone who is sexually active, sometimes we don’t know we’ve picked up an STI because the symptoms can be hidden. If we’ve been exposed, the caring thing to do is to get tested and alert our partners of their potential exposure.

We know that people living with undiagnosed and untreated HIV present one of the greatest risks of onward transmission of the virus. Supporting people to get tested then treated, reduces onward transmission. For the wellbeing of our partners, they also need to be tested and treated if they have acquired an STI including HIV. For all of us, the main strategy to end HIV is get tested, know your status, and take control of your health.

Positive Life understands for most people, telling friends, lovers and fuck buddies of their potential exposure to HIV or another STI was difficult, mostly because of embarrassment and the stigma caused by the disclosure. Many people have told us they didn’t know how to contact partners, what to do, or they were given insufficient information or resources to tell their partners.

People told us they want resources developed by others who have been through a similar situation (peer-developed resources) to support them notifying partners, and these need to provide practical ‘how to’ information. We also found that resources need to cover people’s different preferences when telling partners, and offer ways to tell with each of these preferences.

Partner notification is usually carried out by the person themselves with the support of a nurse or a doctor in a sexual health clinic or GP setting. Positive Life offers a third option.

We can support people diagnosed with an STI (including HIV), to notify or tell partners with the support of someone else (a peer) who has been through the process of notifying partners (sexual or injecting) themselves.  For support call the Positive Life on (02) 0357 8386, 1800 245 677 (outside metro) or email

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