Researchers in Brighton have been awarded £1.5 million to find ways to treat partners of people with sexually transmitted diseases to tackle the continuing spread of infections.
Increasing numbers of patients are having chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnosed and treated. Their partners also need treatment to stop the diseases from spreading further.
The study will try to assess the best ways to test and treat partners who may not realise that they are at risk.
Treatment can prevent them from re-infecting patients and transmitting their infections to new partners.
Professor Jackie Cassell, leading the research at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), a partnership between Brighton University and Sussex University, said that the study will compare three different approaches.
Volunteer patients from Sussex who have a sexual infection diagnosed will be given information and asked to tell their partners about the problem and the need to be treated.
Some will be given standard information and advice. Others will be offered help in the form of a health adviser offering to inform partners – either straight away or a little while after diagnosis.
GP practices will be randomly split into three groups and trained to manage their patients according to one of the three approaches.
Professor Cassell said: “We will measure how well these approaches to partner notification work by comparing how many partners get treated.
“We will also measure how many of the original patients are still infected several weeks later in each group. This is also a good measure of partner notification.
“Patients may have different preferences for contacting different kinds of partners (for example, ex or current partners) and we will explore their views in order to help design services.”
The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, will also examine the cost-effectiveness of each approach.
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