Scientists reveal new contact tracing method for sex partners of people with chlamydia

Digital health

Research involving Strathclyde has shown the effectiveness of a world-first contact tracing method for identifying, testing and treating sexual partners of people with chlamydia – a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which affects 250,000 people in the UK 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 deliver to their partner.

The study, led by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) was published in Lancet Public Health log.

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 University College London, the universities of Brighton, Birmingham, 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.

patient need

Professor Paul Flowers from the School of Psychological and Health Sciences at Strathclyde, said:

APT is a simple intervention that responds directly to the needs of patients and professionals. It allows people to be tested and treated safely and quickly. We need to assess more pragmatic interventions like this to build a better future in health and care and improve the NHS.

GCU sexual health expert and NHS consultant Professor Claudia Estcourt, who led the development of the APT and the large-scale trial, said: “In this first large-scale global trial of the APT, we show that it is safe, effective and likely to be cost effective for the NHS.

“In these times of ever-increasing cost pressures, this is a real step forward in how we approach infectious diseases and sexually transmitted infections, and finding ways to help people notify and to have their partners tested and treated.

“This new method could be adapted within the NHS for other STIs and infectious diseases, such as Monkey Pox and COVID-19.”

Joint work

She added: “This study was a shining example of multidisciplinary work in clinical practice, academia, epidemiology, public health, mathematical modelling, health economics, health psychology and commissioning and health planning.

“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.

A short film gives an overview of the APT and the results of the trial.