Public health department out to curb STD spread
By law, health care providers must notify the state of specific cases of STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV.
HARTFORD — For those diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, it’s crucial to let current and former partners know that they might have been exposed.
But that conversation can be awkward at best, and potentially volatile.
To help alleviate that anxiety, the Connecticut Department of Public Health has a confidential notification process that will let an infected person’s past and current partners know they might have been exposed to an illness — without providing the STD patient’s identity.
The state is promoting the service through a new video campaign called #LeaveItToUs.
The campaign video shows various people awkwardly attempting to tell partners that they have an STD. The video then cuts to a woman explaining, “You know telling them is the right thing to do, because if they don’t know they have an STD, they won’t treat it. And they can get very sick.”
By law, health care providers must notify the state of specific cases of STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. Once informed, specially trained staff called Disease Intervention Specialists reach out confidentially to the infected person and talk to them about their potential partners who have been exposed and may be infected.
Staff then reach out to those partners on behalf of the patient, maintaining confidentiality while answering questions, promoting testing and treatment.
“We understand that having an STD can be scary,” says STD Control Program Coordinator, Dr. Lynn Sosa in a news release. “The message of the #LeaveItToUs campaign is simple: Our staff is here to help make sure people are treated and assist in the process of telling their partners they should be tested too.”
Nationwide, STDs have been on the rise for years. According to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention, about 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed in the United States in 2017.
In Connecticut, there were 17,750 cases of chlamydia reported in 2017, up from 14,028 in 2016. There were 3,913 cases of gonorrhea in Connecticut in 2017, up from 2,745 in 2016. Syphillis actually fell by one case, from 111 in 2016 to 110 in 2017.
Still images from the state Department of Public Health’s new video campaign, #LeaveItTo us, which promotes the state’s confidential STD notification process. The program will let an infected person’s past and current partners know they might have been exposed to an illness — without providing the STD patient’s identity.