How EPT Programs Could Stem The Rise Of STD Cases

How EPT Programs Could Stem The Rise Of STD Cases

Expe­dit­ed part­ner ther­a­py could help cou­ples get the antibi­otics they need for STD treat­ment, but there are still obsta­cles to over­come to make it happen.

In 2017, there were about 2.3 mil­lion new cas­es of STDs in the U.S. Even though the infec­tion rates for gon­or­rhea and chlamy­dia hit records, only the patient seek­ing the treat­ment could get the med­ica­tion they need, which meant their part­ner had to seek their own treat­ment or the patient could become infect­ed again. 

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion rec­om­mend­ed the expe­dit­ed part­ner ther­a­py approach to com­bat the STD epi­dem­ic. In many states, doc­tors are allowed to write pre­scrip­tions for a person’s part­ner even if only one per­son was diag­nosed with the dis­ease. These states’ laws per­mit phar­ma­cies and clin­ics to give STD drugs to part­ners of those infected. 

Three Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan physi­cians talk about the obsta­cles peo­ple have when it comes to expe­dit­ed part­ner ther­a­py. If the obsta­cles were to be over­come, more STD cas­es could be pre­vent­ed includ­ing poten­tial rein­fec­tions of those that have already sought treatment. 

Many well-known and less­er-known med­ical soci­eties have encour­aged the EPT prac­tice based on the fact that it’s both safe and effec­tive. How­ev­er, it’s a tech­nique that’s still not wide­ly utilized.

Dr. Cor­nelius Jami­son, team leader behind the report, said EPT is a pub­lic health issue where pub­lic pol­i­cy is gain­ing on clin­i­cal prac­tice. Jami­son is cur­rent­ly lead­ing research that’s look­ing into the obsta­cles that stop clin­ics from imple­ment­ing and using the EPT method.

Jami­son said the entire health com­mu­ni­ty needs to have some gen­er­al under­stand­ing of what the EPT is, how it works and what it would take for the method to become wide­ly accept­ed and used.

The paper offers a the­o­ret­i­cal frame­work that lays out every pos­si­ble obsta­cle for using EPT – a frame­work that could guide work that lays out how to over­come the obstacles.

What Are Some Bar­ri­ers Relat­ed To EPT?

When it comes to EPT, there are sev­er­al bar­ri­ers that relate to the dis­ease nature and the stig­ma of an STD infec­tion. These bar­ri­ers could keep teenagers and young adults from get­ting test­ed for STDs and get treat­ment for fear of their par­ents find­ing out through bills, insur­ance records and pos­i­tive test results.

Jami­son said many patients will get test­ed and/​or treat­ments from a walk-in clin­ic that is cash-only or free. These sites are nec­es­sary for boost­ing EPT use. On top of that, their part­ners may have no insur­ance or want to use their insur­ance to pay for the STD tests or treatments.

Jami­son said if STD pos­i­tive patients are giv­en a pack of EPT antibi­otics or a pre-writ­ten pre­scrip­tion, it could help them over­come the obstacles.

Gon­or­rhea and chlamy­dia drugs tend to be pre­scribed togeth­er for peo­ple who test pos­i­tive for even just one infec­tion. A doc­tor may pre­scribe their patients with Suprax and Zithromax.

EPT med­ica­tion costs can dif­fer from one place to anoth­er, but even if the cost is low, teenagers and low-income indi­vid­u­als may have a hard time pay­ing for the prescriptions.

Rec­om­mend­ed Screen­ings and Legal Issues

There are mul­ti­ple guide­lines that sug­gest any sex­u­al­ly active teen and young women should get test­ed for gon­or­rhea and chlamy­dia annu­al­ly. Some rec­om­men­da­tions sug­gest old­er women also get test­ed. With incon­sis­tent screen­ings, it means infec­tions will run ram­pant and lead to fur­ther com­pli­ca­tions such as infer­til­i­ty, high­er chance for HIV infec­tions in women and pelvic inflam­ma­to­ry disease.

With more screen­ings and treat­ment, it means providers have a bet­ter chance of talk­ing to patients with STDs about why they need to get their part­ner STD-treat­ment drugs. With a rise in more screen­ing and treat­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, it means doc­tors can talk to STD pos­i­tive patients on why they need to get antibi­otics for their part­ners and use safe sex prac­tices dur­ing sex­u­al activity.

While many EPT clin­i­cal bar­ri­ers remain, it’s also the legal issues that hin­der EPT. For exam­ple, sev­en states, as well as Puer­to Rico, have unclear laws regard­ing EPT. Both Ken­tucky and South Car­oli­na do not per­mit EPT.

Anoth­er prob­lem is the reluc­tance phar­ma­cists and physi­cians have in offer­ing EPT to patients because of a lia­bil­i­ty that could result if an EPT recip­i­ents were to expe­ri­ence any side effects even with states that per­mit the EPT practice.

Jamison’s research is look­ing at EPT and its usage in fed­er­al-man­dat­ed health clin­ics where any patient, no mat­ter if they have insur­ance or not, can pay. He said more infor­ma­tion is need­ed in using and pre­scrib­ing EPT in all areas, with cer­tain steps being imple­ment­ed so clin­ics could ensure EPT is giv­en to the right patients.

Jami­son said it’s impor­tant to deter­mine what that right thing is for STD patients.

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