We now send invitations, love letters, announcements, news bulletins, baby births, even divorce notices by e-mail. So why not let someone know that they may have been inadvertently exposed to an STD?? That's exactly what inSPOT, a service born in San Francisco, California does. And it seems to be an innovative and effective way for people to communicate with even casual past sexual partners when it comes to sounding the "I possibly gave you an STD" alarm. What was the fulcrum for its evolution?
The San Francisco Department of Public Health and a non-profit group surveyed gay men back in 2004 and found that most did not notify casual sexual partners when they were diagnosed subsequently with an STD. These men said that if there were an easy way to do it - of course they would take the opportunity to let someone they had been with - even one time - know, that there was a strong likelihood that an STD might have been passed unknowingly to them.
To date 30,000 people have used the service (to send 50,000 e-cards) and it is now available in Idaho, Louisiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. There is no reason why, in time, it cannot be a national service. And it is no longer "just for gay men" - anyone can use it. Experts believe society is now a world of internet communication, and with most people on line everyday, this tool allows people to comfortably give health information, responsibly, to others. The e-cards have been used as an alert for syphilis, HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
Of course, there is no way to know if some messages have been sent to upset, harass or frighten some recipients. And there's no way to know, if indeed, the recipients, are actually infected. Still, even with possible abuse, this is a great way to communicate possible exposure to some serious even deadly infections, to unknowing recipients.
The real test will be if studies show that the in SPOT reduces STDs or at minimum reduces the complications from untreated STDs.
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Published On: October 23, 2008