Background: Social networking sites have become increasingly popular venues for meeting sex partners. Today, some sexually transmitted disease (STD) programs conduct Internet-based partner services (IPS). The purpose of the study was to explore how the Internet is being used by STD prevention programs to perform partner services. Methods: We assessed US STD prevention programs receiving funds through the 2008-2013 Comprehensive STD Prevention Systems cooperative agreement. We (1) reviewed 2009 IPS protocols in 57 funding applications against a benchmark of national guidelines and (2) surveyed persons who conducted IPS in jurisdictions conducting IPS in 2012. Results: Of the 57 project areas receiving Comprehensive STD Prevention Systems funds, 74% provided an IPS protocol. States with IPS protocols had larger populations and more gonorrhea and syphilis cases (t = 2.2-2.6; all Ps <.05), although not higher rates of infection. Most protocols included staffing (92%) and IPS documentation (87%) requirements, but fewer had evaluation plans (29%) or social networking site engagement strategies (16%). Authority to perform a complete range of IPS activities (send e-mail, use social networking sites) was associated with contacting more partners via IPSs (P <.05). Conclusions: This study provides a snapshot of IPS activities in STD programs in the United States. Further research is needed to move from assessment to generating data that can assist training efforts and program action and, finally, to enable efficient IPS programs that are integrated into STD prevention and control efforts.
- Internet-based partner services
- partner services
- sexually transmitted diseases
- social networking