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n South African Medical Journal - Patient-initiated sexual partner notification in Botswana and time taken for sexual contacts to report for treatment : research
Background. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are an important public health concern because of their impact on reproductive and other health problems. Initiating treatment at an early stage for both index patients and their partners reduces the risk of reinfections and prevents serious short- or long-term complications for the infected individuals. Sexual partner tracing is one of the means available for reaching and treating asymptomatic sexual partners of index patients.
Objectives. To determine the time taken by sexual partners to report to a health facility after they had been notified by the index patient, and the distribution of STI syndromes among the treated index patients who had their sexual partners treated.
Methods. All available contact slips of the treated sexual partners from 19 health districts in Botswana were reviewed. The study period was July 2010 to June 2011 inclusive.
Results. The partner notification slips showed that 77.9% (1 238/1 590) of sexual contacts sought medical attention at government health facilities within 7 days of treating the index patient. Records showed that 47.3% (752/1 590) of the index patients were treated for vaginal discharge syndrome.
Conclusion. A high proportion of sexual contacts were treated within 7 days of treating the index patient. Considering this short period, we conclude that Botswana's recommended 30-day period for consulting sexual partners needs to be revised downwards, so as to reduce the chances of reinfections, complications and transmission of STIs in the community.
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