Contact tracing

If you have been diagnosed with a sexually transmissible infection (STI), your current and past partners should be told that they might be at risk so they can access testing and treatment, if needed. Telling your partners means you can prevent your own re-infection and stop the spread of infection.

The process of telling your sexual partners or sexual contacts is known as contact tracing (sometimes referred to as partner notification). The purpose of contact tracing is to find people who may have the infection and to help them, not to blame them.

Work out who to tell

Your doctor or sexual health nurse can discuss with you the best way to inform partners/people you've had sexual contact with. If you have any difficulties in contacting sexual partners, your health care provider or a sexual health clinic may be able to assist.

How far back should you go when contacting sexual partners depends on the STI:

  • chlamydia—up to 6 months
  • gonorrhoea—at least 2 months
  • syphilis—up to 12 months
  • HIV—outer limit is onset of risk behaviour or last known negative HIV test result.

Depending on your circumstances, these timeframes may be longer. If so, your health care provider will advise you.

Decide how to tell your sexual partners

You'll need to let your partners know which infection you have been treated for and encourage them to have a check-up through a health care provider or sexual health clinic.

You can contact them in person, by phone or SMS, email, or by using a contact tracing website. You can choose to send your message anonymously or put your name on the message when using these websites:

Treat your infection

Treatment is available for most STIs from GP clinics, Aboriginal medical services or your nearest sexual health clinic. Remember to have another STI test in 3 months or as recommended by your health care provider to be sure the infection has cleared.

Prevent re-infection

Make sure you have safe sex. Use condoms and water-based lubricant and have a sexual health check-up at least once a year.

Learn more about safe sex.