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STD E-Mail Warns Former Sexual Partners They Could Be at Risk

More than 19-million new cases of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) are diagnosed each year in the United States and most health professionals agree that notification is the key to prevention. Now, say one finds oneself with an STD and has had a casual encounter with someone -- what's the best way to let them know?

Yes, we know you want to say e-mail. And guess what? It turns out that e-mail is perfectly okay, at least according to the San Francisco Department of Health (SFDPH) and the non-profit Internet Sexuality Information Services (ISIS), which have partnered together to create inSPOT, an e-mail service that provides anonymous form letters e-cards to send out to recent sexual partners! The e-mails offer up information on where to get tested, what questions to ask, and, most importantly, that the recipient may be carrying an STD.

Now, would you notify everyone you've had sex with, including oral sex, in the past six months? ISIS reports that in 2006 and 2007, 23,594 e-cards went out and only 10 recipients have received e-cards in error since the program was started. Apparently it works, as long as no one knows the identity of the sender.

The cards are cheeky, but we wish they'd use a little more tact. Some examples are, "It's not what you brought to the party, it's what you left with," and "Got laid.Was happy. Got tested. Wasn't Healthy." The cards encourage the recipient to get tested for an STD as soon as possible. But still, however sweet and friendly the e-card, the message is always the same, "You've got an STD," and maybe there just isn't much of a way to say that nicely. And said it must be, particularly with STDs that are potentially lethal.

ISIS is currently available in San Francisco, Philly, Portland and a handful of other US cities, with plans for reaching all 50 states. [From Scientific America].

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Tags: health, medicine, std