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Prevention/Epidemiology

Utah: Anonymous Prescriptions Proposed to Fight Sexually Transmitted Diseases

February 26, 2009

The Utah Legislature is considering an expedited partner therapy (EPT) measure under which patients diagnosed with an STD could receive extra antibiotics to treat their partners. HB 17, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Seelig (D-Salt Lake City) would give doctors permission to write, and pharmacists to fill, prescriptions for a patient's unnamed partner.

Public health officials see EPT as a tool to combat Utah's high rate of STDs. State law already allows doctors to treat youths 14 and older for STDs without parental consent. "We're pretty much using every single tool that's out there to curb the spread of [STDs], yet all of this effort is not having any results," said Dagmar Vitek, medical director of the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. "Hopefully this will help us to bring the rates down."

"There's no reason not to do this," said Lynn Beltran, the STD and HIV/AIDS program manager at the Salt Lake City Health Department. "For a lot of people, it's simply a barrier for them to walk through the doors [of an STD clinic]."

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According to CDC, EPT can reduce reinfection rates by up to 20 percent -- more than urging partners to get tested and treated on their own. Stemming reinfection rates is especially important for women, since some STDs can be symptomless and can eventually lead to infertility if not treated.

The bill is backed by the state Department of Health, Utah Pharmacists Association, Utah Retail Merchants Association, Utah Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Utah Food Industry Association. The Utah Medical Association has announced "soft support" of the bill due to concerns that doctors could be liable if patients' partners have a negative reaction to an antibiotic.

The law would permit Utah doctors and pharmacists who have legal or moral concerns about EPT to decline to participate.

Back to other news for February 2009

Adapted from:
Salt Lake Tribune
02.20.2009; Heather May


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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