Sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates rose during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was because treating COVID meant less preventive health care. It also meant less in-person STD testing and medical infrastructure.
In 2020 alone, there were over 2 million cases of chlamydia or gonorrhea. And those are the ones reported.
If left untreated, STDs like these can increase the chances of both infertility and HIV. But there are treatment options available for patients and their sexual partners.
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What Is Expedited Partner Therapy?
Expedited partner therapy (EPT) is the practice of treating STD patients’ sexual partners. The health care professional prescribes medication to the partner without an examination.
Why Access to EPT Is Important
EPT can prevent STD reinfection when a patient’s partner can’t or won’t seek medical care. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (And the American Medical Association.)
Legislation Supporting Expedited Partner Therapy
UPMC and many other health care organizations support EPT. Policy matters when it comes to expanding access.
Sen. Pat Browne is sponsoring Pennsylvania’s Expedited Partner Therapy Act, Senate Bill 317.
If signed into law, medical providers could offer EPT to STD patients and their partners. This would decrease the risks of reinfection, infertility, and HIV.
Where UPMC Stands
UPMC supports Senate Bill 317 and wants Pennsylvanians to have the best treatment options.
“While Magee’s obstetricians, gynecologists, and other providers would prefer to clinically evaluate all patients and their partners, we understand that many barriers to testing and treatment exist,” says, Harold Wiesenfeld, MD, Vice Chair, Gynecology, UPMC. “When standard guidelines are followed, evidence suggests that the benefits of EPT outweigh any risks.”
The legislation’s passing in the Pennsylvania Senate and House Health Committee was unanimous. We hope to see the full House consider and pass it without amendment.
It is time that Pennsylvania joins numerous other states, including Ohio, New York, and West Virginia. It should allow providers to offer the best possible care through the EPT method.
About Government Advocacy
UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Learn about UPMC’s position on public health issues and gain a better understanding of the initiatives that advance the health care industry.