Disease Intervention Specialists
Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) are critical public health professionals that work to stop the spread of infections that threaten communities throughout Missouri. DIS are trained professionals, informed about the causes and spread of STDs, skilled in taking sexual histories, identifying and locating people who may have been exposed to or tested positive for an STD, and know where to refer people for testing and treatment. DIS provide counseling about behaviors that put a person at risk for STDs, including HIV infection. DIS also offer STD education outreach to healthcare providers, community-based organizations, and the general public.
DIS focus on:
- Providing the patient with information about their disease and ways to prevent infection in the future;
- Notifying and locating unaware partners so they can receive confidential and prompt diagnosis and treatment.
While many persons contacted by DIS are less than eager about receiving notification, most are helpful once they understand the importance of receiving treatment for STDs and are assured of the absolute confidentiality of the information they provided.
Generally, the patient and the DIS arrive at a plan to assure that at-risk partners are notified. In some instances, the patient decides to notify and refer their sexual partners. In this case, the DIS provides coaching on how to do this successfully. In other cases, patients prefer that the DIS inform their partner. When a DIS notifies exposed partners, identifying information about the original patient is never disclosed. The DIS conduct their work in a confidential manner, and are trained to work with diverse populations while maintaining a sense of urgency.