Objectives: This study assessed the acceptability and perceived utility of Internet-based partner notification (PN) of sexually transmitted disease (STD) exposure for men who have sex with men (MSM) by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) serostatus.
Study Design: We recruited 1848 US MSM via a banner advertisement posted on an MSM website for meeting sexual partners between October and November 2005.
Results: Even though there was broad acceptance of a PN e-mail across HIV serostatus groups, HIV-infected men rated the importance of each component (e.g., information about where to get tested/treated, additional education regarding the STD exposed to, a mechanism for verifying the authenticity of the PN e-mail) lower than HIV-uninfected or status-unknown participants (all P's <0.01). Additionally, HIV-infected participants were less likely to use the services offered within a PN e-mail (if they were to receive an e-mail notifying them of possible STD exposure in the future), and were less likely to inform their partners of possible STD exposure via an Internet notification system in the future (all P's <0.01). A similar trend emerged about men who reported not having a previous STD compared with those who did. Men who reported no previous STD found Internet PN more acceptable.
Conclusions: Overall, this study documents broad acceptance of Internet PN by at-risk MSM, regardless of HIV serostatus, including a willingness to receive or initiate PN-related e-mail. If public health officials consider using Internet notification services, they may need to anticipate and address concerns of HIV-infected MSM, and will need to use a culturally-sensitive, social marketing campaign to ensure that those who may benefit from these services are willing to use this modality for PN. Internet PN should be considered as a tool to decrease rising STD and HIV rates among MSM who use the Internet to meet sexual partners.