An Analysis of and Intervention in the Sexual Transmission of Disease

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Sexually transmitted diseases are a serious threat to the public health. Indeed, when an individual seeks medical treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, health authorities frequently attempt to identify, procure, and treat that individual's sexual contact(s). We conducted a comparative analysis of three alternative approaches to tracing the sexual partners of individuals diagnosed as having a sexually transmitted disease. The first approach involved counseling individuals (n = 27) infected with either gonorrhea or nongonococcal urethritis and exhorting them to procure their sexual partners for treatment. In addition to counseling, the second and third approaches involved distributing “occasion cards” for patients to use when informing sexual contacts of the need for treatment. Moreover, in the second approach, the counselor (a nurse or physician) informed infected patients (n = 19) that they and their partners could waive the $3 clinic fee contingent upon the partners seeking treatment within 1 week. In the third approach, the counselor asked infected persons (n = 19) to accept a follow‐up telephone contact if their sexual partners failed to seek treatment within 1 week. The third approach was most effective. Ninety percent of the partners identified through this approach sought treatment, versus only about 60% of the partners in the other two conditions. The third approach was also the least expensive, costing about $2.95 to procure each partner for treatment. 1990 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior



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