Health
2:00 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

Law would allow STD treatment of partners -- without medical exam

A bill in the state House would let doctors prescribe medication to the partner of a patient who's been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease -- without examining the partner.

It's called expedited partner therapy.
 
The law would apply to chlamydia and gonorrhea.  Both diseases are highly infectious, and can cause serious damage to a woman's reproductive system. They can also increase the risk of contracting HIV.
 
Karen Krzanowski is manager of the sexually transmitted disease program at the Michigan Department of Community Health.

"There's a source of that disease in the community, and it's being spread," Krzanowski says. "So the idea is to wrap a ring around that and try to get everyone treated. Normally and ideally, anyone who has tested positive for these diseases or knows they've been exposed should see their physician or come into a local health department for treatment."

Krzanowski says patients will be counseled on prevention, and given help in notifying their partners to get them in for help.

However, she says there are cases in which partners are not willing to come in.

"In those cases, the actual patient being seen would be given a prescription or medication to give to their partner," Krzanowski says.

More than 50,000 thousand cases of chlamydia and more than 13,000 thousand cases of gonorrhea were  reported in Michigan in 2011.

"These diseases are found among all populations," Krzanowski says. "However, there's a disproportionate amount of these diseases among young African American men and women. We're particularly concerned about young women, because if untreated, these diseases can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility."

Krzanowski says Michigan is one of seven states that prohibits expedited partner therapy.