Traditional and web-based technologies to improve partner notification following syphilis diagnosis among men who have sex with men in Lima, Peru: Pilot randomized controlled trial

Jesse L. Clark, Eddy R. Segura, Catherine E. Oldenburg, Hector J. Salvatierra, Jessica Rios, Amaya Gabriela Perez-Brumer, Pedro Gonzales, Bhupendra Sheoran, Jorge Sanchez, Javier R. Lama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Patient-initiated partner notification (PN) following the diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection is a critical component of disease control in men who have sex with men (MSM) sexual networks. Both printed and internet-based technologies offer potential tools to enhance traditional partner notification approaches among MSM in resource-limited settings. Objective: This randomized controlled trial aimed to evaluate the effect of 2 different PN technologies on notification outcomes following syphilis diagnosis among MSM in Peru: A Web-based notification system and patient-delivered partner referral cards. Methods: During 2012-2014, we screened 1625 MSM from Lima, Peru, for syphilis infection and enrolled 370 MSM with symptomatic primary or secondary syphilis (n=58) or asymptomatic latent syphilis diagnosed by serology (rapid plasma reagin, RPR, and Microhemagglutination assay for Treponema pallidum antibody; n=312). Prior to enrollment, potential participants used a computer-based self-interviewing system to enumerate their recent sexual partnerships and provide details of their 3 most recent partners. Eligible participants were randomly assigned to one of 4 intervention arms: (1) counseling and patient-initiated Web-based PN (n=95), (2) counseling with Web-based partner notification and partner referral cards (n=84), (3) counseling and partner referral cards (n=97), and (4) simple partner notification counseling (control; n=94). Self-reported partner notification was assessed after 14 days among 354 participants who returned for the follow-up assessment. Results: The median age of enrolled participants was 27 (interquartile range, IQR 23-34) years, with a median of 2 partners (IQR 1-5) reported in the past month. Compared with those who received only counseling (arm 4), MSM provided with access to Web-based partner notification (arms 1 and 2) or printed partner referral cards (arms 2 and 3) were more likely to have notified one or more of their sexual partners (odds ratio, OR, 2.18, 95% CI 1.30-3.66; P=.003 and OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.01-2.79; P=.045, respectively). The proportion of partners notified was also higher in both Web-based partner notification (241/421, 57.2%; P<.001) and referral card (240/467, 51.4%; P=.006) arms than in the control arm (82/232, 35.3%). Conclusions: Both new Web-based technologies and traditional printed materials support patient-directed notification and improve self-reported outcomes among MSM with syphilis. Additional research is needed to refine the use of these partner notification tools in specific partnership contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere232
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Infectious diseases
  • Latin America
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Partner notification
  • Syphilis


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