Research involving UCL has shown the effectiveness of a world’s first contact tracing method to identify, test and treat sexual partners of people with chlamydia – a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which affects 250,000 people in the UK United every year.
Accelerated Partner Therapy (APT) is a method of contact tracing, in which medical professionals assess sexual partners of people with chlamydia over the phone before giving the patient a set of antibiotics and self-help kits. – STI sample to be delivered to their partner(s). All of this happens when the patient is in the clinic to receive treatment.
While in theory this technique could be used to help test and treat any number of sexual partners, the trial showed that it was better suited to people and their established, emotionally connected partners, rather than to their occasional partners.
The study, led by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), was published in the journal The Lancet Public Health.
Professor Claudia Estcourt (UCL Institute for Global Health, GCU and NHS consultant) who led the development of the APT and the large-scale trial said it could increase patient choice, save the patient money NHS and be suitable for infectious diseases like Monkey Pox, COVID-19 or other STIs.
It was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), a major funder of global health research and training that benefits the NHS, public health and social services.
The research also involved experts from the universities of Brighton, Birmingham, Strathclyde, Bern in Switzerland, as well as UKHSA Health Protection Services, Health Promotion and Digital Services, University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, All East Sexual Health, Barts Health NHS Trust, The Royal London Hospital, Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust.
Professor Estcourt said: ‘Contact tracing and providing prompt treatment is a key part of caring for people with chlamydia, the most common STI in the UK.
“It’s really hard to get it right. We’ve developed a new process called Accelerated Partner Therapy that makes it easier and faster for sex partners to get tested and treated.
“In this first large-scale global trial of APT, we show that it is safe, effective and likely to be cost-effective for the NHS. In times of ever-increasing cost pressures, this is a real step forward in our approach to infectious diseases and STIs, and in finding ways to help people inform their partners and offer tests and treatments.
“This new method could be adapted within the NHS for other STIs and infectious diseases, such as Monkey Pox and COVID-19.”
Professor Estcourt said developing a new process like APT is very similar to designing a new drug in terms of the steps that need to be taken to demonstrate its safety and efficacy.
She said: ‘We are extremely proud because this is a very long process that takes years and we have followed the gold standard, the advice of the Medical Research Council, for the development of complex interventions. . The steps are very similar to those of the development of a new drug:
“Since we received our first APT grant funding in 2008, we’ve followed the process through exploratory studies, testing it with different patient groups, different infections and ultimately arriving at this large randomized controlled trial.
“This study was a shining example of multidisciplinary work in clinical practice, academia, including experts in epidemiology, public health, mathematical modelling, health economics, health psychology, commissioning and service planning. health.
“Without this very strong multidisciplinary work, we wouldn’t be here. I am so grateful to have led this research and to all the authors and their institutions because the strength of this is in the team and the disciplines it is based on and working together.