DIS and Partner Services
Who are DIS?
Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) are non-licensed public health professionals who take on many roles to protect people across the nation. Whether tackling STD prevention, tuberculosis outbreak response, HIV exposure notification, or emergency response – DIS bring a special set of skills and level of dedication matched by few in the field.
DIS skills include expertise in case analysis, education and counseling, linkage to care, provider and community engagement, and, critically, contact tracing and partner services.
What are ‘partner services’ and ‘contact tracing’?
‘Partner services’ are offered to people with STDs, to their partners, and to other people who are at increased risk for infection in an effort to prevent transmission of these diseases and to reduce suffering from their complications. The historical focus was to identify and locate the sexual contacts of infected people and other people at risk for behavioral or other factors – ‘contact tracing’ – and then refer them for care and treatment, as appropriate.
The basic partner services process – interviewing people with STDs and others potentially involved in transmission, identifying people still at risk (whether through direct exposure or indirect involvement), and bringing the latter to diagnosis and treatment – has evolved to include a broad view of the clinical and epidemiologic activities needed to help people with STDs.
However, the partner services and contact tracing approach and skillset extends beyond STD prevention. DIS are a public health resource uniquely poised to strengthen the nation’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities for emerging public health issues. DIS have contributed to multiple outbreak investigations in the U.S. and abroad, including anthrax, TB, HIV, flu, measles, food-borne illnesses, Zika and even Ebola, and have provided emergency response support after natural disasters (e.g. Hurricanes Hugo, Katrina and Michael). As the health care landscape evolves, well-trained DIS are needed even more as patient navigators and network builders to ensure appropriate follow-up of patients.
- Online Passport to Partner Services Modulesexternal icon
Module that provides an overview of partner services principles
- Online Introduction to Telephone Interviewing for DISexternal icon
Module that provides an overview of principles and best practices for conducting telephone interviews
- Implementing Social Networking Technologies for Partner Servicesexternal icon
Webinar from Using Technologies to Advance STD Prevention (UTASP) that describes how to gather information and notify partners using technology
- Disease Intervention Specialist Certification Project – Final Report to CDC – Executive Summary pdf icon
Report from the Assessment Phase of an effortexternal icon to develop a high-quality, standardized approach to DIS professional development, including a job task analysispdf icon and a template functional job descriptionpdf icon for health departments to use to clearly define DIS positions.
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- National STD Curriculumexternal icon
Curriculum that addresses the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, management, and prevention of STDs
- New York Syphilis Monographpdf iconexternal icon
Describes 10 steps in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of Syphilis
- Toolkit for Technology-based Partner Services
The updated toolkit provides new examples from the field as well as information about how to conduct partner services using text messages and geolocating mobile apps.
VCAmon is a computer-based application designed for stand-alone plotting of syphilis cases for visual case analysis (VCA) to assist those performing syphilis partner services and case management activities to identify all opportunities for disease intervention. (July 20, 2015)
- Prevention Resources
CDC has a variety of resources available for HIV, Hepatitis, STD and TB partners.
- Partner Service Providers Quick Guidepdf icon – Updated 2014
- STD Picture Cards – Printable cards illustrating symptoms of STDs.
- Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT)
The clinical practice of treating the sex partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea by providing prescriptions or medications to the patient to take to his/her partner without the health care provider first examining the partner.
- Webinar: From Partner Services to Field Services: The Evolving Role of Public Health Outreach to Control HIV/STDs
Matthew Golden, MD, March 13, 2014, STD Prevention Science Series, View Recording
- CDC Contact Tracing Resources
Resources for conducting contact tracing to stop the spread of COVID-19 from CDC and other organizations.
- WHO COVID-19 Trainings Resourcesexternal icon
Resources include several online training courses including an introductory course on the novel coronavirus.
- NIH COVID-19 Training and Resources (Spanish content available)external icon
These tools provide health and safety guidance to workers who work in industries with the potential for exposure to COVID-19; the site houses several webinars and technical workshops.