Public health benefits of partner notification for sexually transmitted infections and HIV
This report provides a better understanding of current policies and practice related to partner notification in Europe and evaluates its public health benefits, and particularly its role in STI and HIV prevention. It also reveals the wide variety of partner notification practices in Europe which are determined by diverse legal and policy frameworks, and influenced by cultural and social factors.
To explore and evaluate current partner notification policies and practices across Europe, ECDC gathered information about existing national legal and policy frameworks. In 11 of the 24 countries that responded to the ECDC questionnaires, laws or regulations exist that make partner notification compulsory for the health care provider, the patient or both. These laws most often apply to HIV, syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. While some countries have wide-ranging legal obligations to enforce partner notification, others have laws that are not enforced, and some countries have no such obligations or laws.
In general, “partner notification” describes the process when the sexual partner(s) of a patient who was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) are identified and informed of their exposure. During this process, the sexual partner(s) are normally invited for testing, counselling and, where necessary, treatment.
There are different approaches to partner notification which can be broadly defined as:
- patient referral, i.e. the tested patient takes the responsibility for informing their sexual partner(s) of a possible STI exposure and for referring them to services,
- provider referral where the test provider informs the sexual partner(s), and
- contract or conditional referral, where the provider informs the sexual partner(s) in case the patient fails to do so within an agreed period of time.
Patient referral preferred approach
The report shows that patient referral is the preferred approach to partner notification for all STI in most EU/EEA countries. Provider referral was used in some countries, most often for syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and HIV.
The majority of health care providers see the value of partner notification. There is little support for mandatory partner notification and concern about use of provider referral, in particular for HIV partner notification, because of patient confidentiality issues.
Partner notification has clear clinical benefits: it aims to prevent re-infection of the index patient and treat their sexual partner(s). And at the same time it also has public health benefits as partner notification aims to control the spread of STI and reduce STI-related sickness and deaths.
Information for this report was obtained through three online questionnaires, in-depth interviews with health professionals and policy-makers and literature reviews.
Key aspects regarding the introduction and prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccination in the EU/EEA and the UK
26 Oct 2020 - This document provides an overview of the key aspects related to the initial phases following the introduction of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) and the United Kingdom (UK). The aim is to support but not define EU policy on COVID-19 vaccination.
Fourth external quality assessment on species identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of Campylobacter, 2018
26 Oct 2020 - This report presents the results of the fourth round of the EQA on antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) for national public health laboratories for Campylobacter (Campylobacter EQA4-AST) within the Food‐ and Waterborne Diseases and Zoonoses Network (FWD-Net). The objectives of this EQA4-AST were to determine the accuracy of quantitative AST results reported by participants; to identify common laboratory problems related to the guidance in the EU protocol, and to assess the overall comparability of routinely collected AST data from national public health reference laboratories across Europe.
COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures for primary care, including general practitioner practices, dental clinics and pharmacy settings: first update
19 Oct 2020 - This document provides guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC) measures to healthcare providers in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) and the United Kingdom (UK) in order to prevent COVID-19 infection.