Expedited Partner Therapy: The BOGO of STD Treatment
December 19, 2016
There is stigma attached to getting tested for sexually transmitted disease (STDs) that tends to steer many people, especially teenagers, away from visiting the clinic. Some of the questions running through a frightened person’s head may range from “Will it hurt?” to “How much will this cost me?” to “What if my parents find out?!” These questions and fears may prevent teens from going to the clinic when they find out their partner has an STD and now they likely have it, too.
This public health concern has sparked a new practice in health care called expedited partner therapy (EPT), which allows a health care provider to treat a patient and their sexual partners without having physically examined the patient’s partner(s). Once a patient has tested positive for a specific STD, their health care provider is allowed to prescribe treatment for the patient as well as their unexamined partner. (In some states, health care providers can provide treatment for up to five partners!) So who pays for the treatment? Some states cover the costs of the treatment, so patients and their partners don’t have to pay anything, and most clinics provide reduced-fee services.
EPT is required by law in some states, whereas other states are ambiguous, but only in a handful is it not allowed. In states that mandate EPT, the program has significantly reduced the number of gonorrhea and chlamydia cases. Hopefully, it will encourage people to have more open communication in relationships about getting tested and treated for STDs. However, despite EPT’s convenience and privacy, it is still more effective for any teen that has unprotected sex or knows that their partner has an STD, to seek testing and treatment in person.