Contact tracing for sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses
Contact tracing is a process used to stop the spread of many different infections in the community. It involves finding and informing the people who have been in contact with a person who has an infection so they can get the necessary counselling, testing and treatment.
This information only looks at contact tracing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) such as HIV and hepatitis B.
Who is a contact?
A contact is anyone with whom you have had unsafe sex and/or blood-to-blood contact.
- Sex includes unprotected vaginal, anal and/or oral sex.
- Blood-to-blood contact can occur through sharing injecting equipment, (including needles and syringes), body piercing, tattooing or sharing personal items contaminated with blood or infectious body fluids (note that contamination may be microscopic, that is invisible to the naked eye).
Why is contact tracing important?
Contact tracing is important to:
- stop the spread of infection in the community
- prevent long-term health problems.
People often do not know they have an STI or BBV and unknowingly spread it to others.
Who does contact tracing?
You can do contact tracing yourself or with the help of a health professional. Discuss this with your doctor.
How is contact tracing done?
Contact tracing should be voluntary.
If you are found to have an STI or BBV, you will be asked to list the names and other details of people with whom you have had unsafe sex and/or blood-to-blood contact.
You can decide which people you want to tell about the infection and which ones you would prefer a health professional to tell.
Contact tracing is confidential. Your name or any identifying information will not be disclosed to your contact by your health professional.
Whether you or a health professional talk to your contact, they should be told that they:
- could have the infection
- need to get tested.
Where to get help
Confidential counselling, testing and treatment for STIs and BBV and advice about contact tracing are available from GPs, sexual health clinics and other health agencies.
Sexual Health Helpline
Sexual Health Clinic, Royal Perth Hospital
South Terrace Clinic, Fremantle Hospital
Your local Population Health Unit
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.