When you test positive for a sexually transmitted infection
(STI), including HIV, the local health department in your area offers Partner
Services. These are free, voluntary and
confidential sexual health services offered by your local health
department. These services are offered
to people who test positive for certain STIs like syphilis, HIV, chlamydia or
Partner Services staff (also known as Disease Intervention
Specialists or “DIS”) contact people with STIs and their sex partners to:
Services help prevent the spread of STIs, and help protect you from getting
If a DIS calls you on the phone to offer Partner Services,
you may ask to speak with a supervisor to verify the caller’s identity. Or, you
may request their main phone number to call back and confirm the caller is from
the health department. If meeting in person, you may ask the DIS to present
their employer-issued identification badge.
No. Your information is confidential. DIS will never tell
your partners any information about you, including your name, when you were
tested or when they may have been exposed to an STI. Though your partners may
guess who might have infected them, DIS will never reveal your identity.
Yes. You may tell your partners that you have an infection
and they may, too. You can bring them in to the health department or encourage
them to go to their own health care provider for testing and treatment. The DIS
can help you plan and practice what to say to your partners. If you do not feel
safe telling your partners yourself and fear a negative or dangerous reaction,
a DIS can tell them for you while still protecting your identity.
Even if you are treated and your partners have no symptoms,
there is still a chance they have the STI and will re-infect you if they are
not treated. If you are no longer seeing that partner, it is still important to
stop the spread of STIs so they don’t infect another partner. People deserve to
know if they may have been infected with an STI. Then they can get treatment as
soon as possible and avoid passing the infection on to someone else.
Your partner might think you infected them, but they may have
infected you. The DIS will never discuss this with your partners. We encourage
you to have an open and honest conversation with your partner about STI testing
if you feel safe doing so. The DIS can help you plan what to say to your
partner, or tell your partner for you. Remember, if your partner is infected
and not treated, you may get infected again.
Your safety is very important to us! The DIS is trained to
discuss these concerns with you and will help you make a plan, provide
resources and refer you to a shelter or get other help from organizations that
specialize in domestic violence. Or, you may decide it is too dangerous for
your partner to be notified. In that
case, the DIS will never tell a partner about a possible STI exposure.
The DIS will work with you to tell as many different partners
as you want. We may be able to reach your partners by their screen names or
social media accounts. The more information you give the DIS, the easier it
will be for us to find and tell your partners. Any information you provide will
be helpful including phone number, nicknames, physical description, hangouts,
etc. Again, the DIS will protect your identity if you choose to have the health
department tell these partners on your behalf.
The DIS will provide Partner Services no matter where your
partners live. DIS work with DIS from other state and local health departments
across the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The DIS in the
areas where your partners live will contact your partners and tell them that they
should be tested for STIs. No matter where your partners live, they will not be
told any information about you including where you live.
It depends. Based on what infection you have, the DIS will explain
when a person is most likely to spread infection, and what kind of contact (needle-sharing
or sexual) could lead to the spread of that infection. Based on this
discussion, the DIS will focus on telling your sex or needle-sharing partners
or both. Remember, the purpose of Partner Services is to make sure your
partners get the medical testing and treatment they need, and that you don’t
get infected again. The purpose is not to get you in trouble. The DIS will never
give your name to law enforcement if you say you use, or used to use, illegal
No. The health department staff cannot force you to talk to
them but they will strongly encourage you to. The DIS may try to contact you
several times. Help them help you by being honest about your partners. It is important
that your partners be told of possible infections so they can be tested and treated
before they get sick or pass the infection to someone else (or back to you!).
Providing Partner Services is the best way to stop the
spread of STIs. Many people do not have symptoms (feel sick) and don’t know
they have an STI. If your partners don’t know they have an infection, and don’t
get treated, they can continue to pass STIs to partners. Pregnant women can
pass STIs to their unborn infants. Without treatment, you may have long-term
health problems including being unable to get pregnant, blindness, and
neurological problems. It is important to get tested and treated early to stop the
spread of the infection.
No. The health department must verify your identity and your
diagnosis to make sure people don’t use the system as a prank. Your personal
information is kept confidential and never disclosed to your partners without
No. Partner Services is free to you and your partners.
No. Your employer will not be told anything about you.
Partner Services is confidential. Only your exposed partners will be told they
may have an infection and your name will not be mentioned.
201 W. Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-2399
(410) 767-6500 or 1-877-463-3464