PENShouston is an innovative website designed by the Bureau of HIV/STI and Viral Hepatitis Prevention to aid in partner elicitation and notification services (PENS), as well as to provide related educational information. PENShouston is an intervention tool that is designed to offer our clients an alternative option to provide information on their sex partners and those in their social circle at their convenience using their smart phone, PC or tablet. This self-interview tool can supplement and/or replace the face-to-face interview between our clients and the DIS. This web based interview site is provided as a free service to help patients make certain that their sex partners and/or friends who may have been exposed to HIV/STIs are evaluated, treated, notified and referred to medical care by specially trained public health workers.
Communication between the patient and the DIS will continue if or when needed, but not in the traditional way. Communication could be conducted via e-mails, phone calls, and/or by text messaging for those patients who choose to use the web-based interview (WBI) site.
Using PENShouston as an online partner elicitation and notification service is an innovative way to address confidentiality concerns while still fulfilling disease intervention and prevention activities. HIV/STI clinical data has also shown that more clients are using the internet as a means of meeting potential sexual contacts. It is speculated that clients who use the internet for this purpose would be more inclined to complete a convenient online interview versus a face to face interview. PENShouston provides a model for new and progressive data collection. This unconventional interview process will allow DIS to reach more clients utilizing a less traditional avenue of HIV/STI intervention and prevention. This process is totally confidential and it will help stop the spread of STIs and HIV.