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April 9, 2009

Cleveland Adopts Online STI Notification System

Beginning next week, the Cleveland Health Department will post profiles on two popular dating websites for men who have sex with men (MSM) in order to reach people who might have been exposed to HIV or syphilis, Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer reports.

According to the article, the department’s usual method of notifying people who might have been exposed to either sexually transmitted infection (STI) is to visit them at their home or popular venues such as bars or bathhouses. Health workers hope that joining social networking sites Manhunt and Adam4Adam will help them reach people who meet sex partners online.

“[Our] experience of late when talking to someone who has tested positive for HIV or another [STI] is this: ‘I can give you three names and one screen name,’” said David Merriman, the project coordinator who oversees HIV/AIDS services for the city.

Through the online notification system, recipients will get an e-mail explaining that one of their partners has tested positive for an STI. It then provides a phone number to verify the e-mail’s authenticity and to obtain more information.

Most of the $2,000 to $4,000 used for the department’s increased Internet presence and secure computer network came from state and federal grants.

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