What is the Partner Services Program (PSP)?
When people in Massachusetts are diagnosed with one of several sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides sexual health services. These services are all free, voluntary, and confidential.
If your patient has been diagnosed with HIV or another STD, someone from our team of specially-trained staff can:
- Answer questions about STDs
- Discuss current sexual practices as well as a range of risk-reduction strategies
- Support medical care engagement and, in some instances, re-engagement if patients have fallen out of care
- Support linkage to other health and social services
- Anonymously notify partners of a potential exposure
- Assist partners with getting testing and treatment/care
Why is partner notification important?
When your patient identifies partners to be notified about a potential exposure:
- There is a reduced likelihood your patient will be infected again
- Their partners are prompted to be screened and get treatment or care
- Fewer people in the community will become infected or experience complications of untreated STDs
When we notify partners of a potential exposure, we won’t tell them the patient name, gender, or anything which would identify the patient. We won’t even tell them the date they may have been exposed. Instead, we will:
- Let them know that they might have been exposed to an STD
- Help them get tested and treated and/or into medical care if needed
- Help them prevent getting or passing STDs in the future
How does the Partner Services Program help my patients?
We work with you and your team to provide added support to your patients and their partners. After an HIV or other STD diagnosis, people may feel overwhelmed, confused, uncomfortable, embarrassed, or even scared, especially with regard to how to tell partners they may have been exposed. Using a client-centered, risk-reduction approach, we can help them:
- Understand how STDs are transmitted
- Identify strategies for reducing the likelihood of acquiring or transmitting STDs in the future
- Notify partners of a potential exposure
- Explain the importance of routine screenings, treatment, and/or ongoing care
- Identify and address barriers that might keep someone from getting screened, treated, or remaining in care
- Obtain condoms and other prevention tools
How does the Partner Services Program support re-engagement?
In certain circumstances, we can locate and assist your patients in getting re-engaged when:
- They have not returned for their STD diagnosis/treatment
- They have fallen out of HIV care
What is my role?
Providers (i.e. clinicians, test counselors, case managers, etc.) play an important role in supporting this effective public health service designed to help patients and their partners know about their STD status, understand how to prevent STDs, get tested and treated, and remain engaged with care. We ask that you collaborate with us by:
- Educating patients about the range of services we provide, including partner notification
- Distributing Partner Services Program materials to patients, highlighting the value of these services
- Encouraging patients to utilize the Partner Services Program
- Assuring patients that respect and confidentiality will be maintained
Where can I get more information?
Visit our partner services pages for more information or call (617) 983-6999