April is STD Awareness Month. Over the month, the CDC has been presenting a series of posts around this year’s theme – Treat Me Right – which focuses on the important relationship between healthcare providers and patients. Last week, Dr. Gail Bolan discussed the critical need to take a sexual history and how to start the conversation with your patient. Today, in her third installment of this series, Dr. Bolan talks about the importance of expedited partner therapy.
Usually when individuals have been diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea, the first step they take is getting treatment. But what about their partners? You can ask your patient to have their partner come see you, but let’s be honest, that doesn’t always happen. What if I told you that there is a way to help get partners of your patients treated, too?
Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT): An Underutilized STD Prevention Option
EPT is the clinical partner management strategy of providing treatment for sex partners of your patient to reduce opportunities for reinfection and long-term health consequences, and to stop further transmission in your community. EPT is allowable in most states for chlamydia and in some states for gonorrhea.
EPT is supported by the CDC as well as by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the Society for Adolescent Medicine, and the American Bar Association.
Why you should consider EPT:
• EPT is effective – studies have shown that patients whose partners received EPT were less likely to be re-infected than those who simply told their partners to visit a doctor
• Allows partners to receive treatment quickly
• Helps to reach partners who otherwise could not come in for treatment
When to use EPT: If your patient has a sex partner who is unlikely to seek timely evaluation and treatment and your patient is willing to deliver the medication to their partner.
Talk to your patient to assess whether their partner has access to timely treatment. If not, and if permissible by state laws or regulations, you can then give medications to your patient to take to their sex partner along with health information explaining why and how to take it.
While the optimal approach to partner treatment includes clinical evaluation of sex partners in a healthcare setting, EPT is an additional strategy for partner management. It does not replace other strategies such as provider-assisted referral, when available.
For additional information, please visit CDC’s Expedited Partner Therapy page.
SERMO wants to know: Have you ever prescribed EPT? If no, why not? Are there special circumstances when you do or don’t suggest EPT? Login or join SERMO to join this conversation.