Treatments and tests

Contact tracing

If you have certain types of infections or diseases, you could pass them to other people that you have come into contact with.

Some infections, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), blood-borne viruses and other diseases like meningococcal disease and tuberculosis, are especially serious.

Contact tracing is the process by which any people (contacts) you may have passed a serious infection on to are identified, diagnosed and then treated. This process stops infections and diseases spreading further through the community.

Why should I tell people?

Talking about STIs and other diseases can be really difficult, but if you have a serious infection which you may have passed on, your contacts have a right to know so they can get tested and treated.

Even though you may feel embarrassed or worried, you have a moral responsibility to consider the health and well-being of your contacts.

Most people like to be told in person. But if you are finding it difficult, there are other ways. If you don’t wish to talk to your contacts yourself, your doctor or healthcare provider can arrange for them to be informed, without using your name.

Who is a contact?

For STIs, relevant contacts include anyone you had sex with, especially unprotected sex, while you were infectious.

For blood-borne viruses, such as HIV or hepatitis B, contacts include any sexual partners as well as anyone you might have shared needles with or anyone who might have been exposed to your blood.

For tuberculosis or meningococcal disease, a contact is usually considered as someone you have had close and prolonged contact with, for example someone who lives in the same household.

Your doctor or healthcare professional will be able to help you identify your contacts.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor.
  • Phone healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.
  • Phone the Sexual Health Helpline on 9227 6178 outside metro area 1800 198 205 (free from land line only)
  • Phone Family Planning Western Australia (FPWA) Sexual Health Services on 9227 6177.
  • Visit a GP after hours.
  • Anita Clayton Centre (WA Tuberculosis Control Program)
    8.15am to 4.15pm –Monday to Friday
    Phone: 9222 8500
    Email: ACCadmin@health.wa.gov.au

Remember

  • Your contacts have a right to know if they may have a serious infection or disease.
  • You can arrange for your contacts to be told by a health professional, who will not use your name.

Acknowledgements
Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.