Frequently Asked Questions for Partners

These are commonly asked questions from people who have been contacted by a person from the New York State Department of Health, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or a local health department about Partner Services.

I just got a call from someone at the health department. How do I know that this isn't a prank?

New York State has public health regulations and programs in place to help reduce and eliminate the spread of STD/HIV. Partner Services is one of these programs. Department staff are assigned to follow-up on reported cases of Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. In order to do this, staff work with health care providers and may contact patiens directly to ensure medical care, testing, and planning for partner notification occurs.

If you are meeting with someone in person, you can ask to see their identification badge. If you are talking on the phone, you can ask to speak with the Partner Services Specialist's supervisor.

Who gave you my name? or Who told you to contact me?

It is understandable that you ask that question, however, that information is strictly confidential. It is not important who gave your name; just that someone cared enough about you and your health to ask that you be notified.

If I always use protection (condoms/clean needles or works), why do I need testing?

Using protection (condoms) during vaginal, oral or anal sex is a great way to avoid getting infected; however it is not 100% effective. Sometimes condoms do not fit correctly, are not used correctly or at the right time, or they may break. Also, some STDs can be transmitted during contact between areas not covered by the condom.

Using clean needles and works will prevent transmission of HIV, as well as syphilis and Hepatitis C, but you can still get these diseases if you have sex with people with these diseases. It is also important to not share your clean works with others, to protect their health.

I don't have any signs or symptoms of an infection, so why do I need testing?

It is very common to not show signs or symptoms of an infection, but still have one. The only way to know for sure is to be tested.

I am afraid to get tested - does it hurt?

There are many ways a person can be tested for an STD. Many times, all that is needed is a simple urine sample. Other times, blood testing may be necessary, but there are different ways that blood can be taken as well.

If I always use protection, why do I need testing?

Using protection (condoms) during vaginal, oral or anal sex is a great way to avoid getting infected; however it is not 100% effective. Sometimes condoms do not fit correctly, are not used correctly or at the right time, or they may break. Also, some STDs can be transmitted during contact between areas not covered by the condom.

I was exposed to an STD or HIV. Are my sex or needle-sharing partners also at risk?

It is possible that your partners are also at risk for an infection. First you need to be tested to find out if you are infected. If you do have an STD/HIV, the Partner Services Specialist will talk with you about your sex or needle-sharing partners. This is an important step to preventing the spread of STD/HIV. If you are concerned that one of your recent sex or needle-sharing partners may also have an STD/HIV, you can talk with the Partner Services Specialist about your concerns, or any questions you might have.