The DCist reported that the D.C. council recently approved an expedited partner therapy (EPT) program to fight the high rates of STD infection and reinfection. The Expedited Partner Therapy Act of 2013 allows doctors who treat individuals diagnosed with STDs to provide treatment for their partners also, without seeing the partner for an exam. Partners are likely to be infected as well.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea rates in the district increased 18 and 22 percent, respectively, from 2010 to 2011, according to the D.C. Committee on Health. More than two-thirds of those cases were among youth ages 15–24. D.C. joins 35 other states that have legalized the practice. “We’re very excited that it passed,” said Christina Henderson, deputy chief of staff for Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), who co-sponsored the bill with eight bipartisan colleagues. “D.C. has a very high rate of [sexually transmitted infections]—not just initial infections but a high reinfection rate, particularly among our teen and women of color populations. This provides physicians in the District with another tool to help combat those increasing rates,” she said.
STDs can cause infertility and pregnancy problems, and people infected with STDs are more susceptible to being infected with HIV. Minorities bear the burden of high STD and HIV rates and often have more barriers to treatment, which is why supporters of the bill argue EPT is necessary. CDC has recommended that health departments institute EPT programs since 2005. The National Coalition of STD Directors estimated that STD treatment cost US taxpayers $850 million annually. Supporters believe EPT programs will reduce this expenditure greatly.