Kansas City, MO – A new Missouri law taking effect this weekend gives doctors another option for treating sexually transmitted diseases.
Normally, when a person has an STD like gonorrhea or chlamydia, he or she has to see a doctor for a health exam in order to get medication. But under a new Missouri law, a doctor can now give a patient who has an STD medication for that person's partner as well.
It's called expedited partner therapy, or EPT.
Lesha Dennis is with the Kansas City Missouri Health Department, which sees 50 to 60 people a day in its STD clinic. She says it's not always easy for a partner to follow up.
"A lot of places are 9 to 5," says Dennis. "If people work, that's hard. Also, for people who do work - if they have issues, they often go to the ER. That's four to five hours of a non-emergency situation you're trying to get taken care of. So, to be able to deal with that away from a site, sort of when it's really convenient for you, I see that as a major advantage."
Last year, more than 6,000 cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia combined were reported in Kansas City. Dennis says people who've been infected with an STD often don't show symptoms. Untreated, such diseases can lead to medical complications.
Meanwhile, Dr. Rex Archer, director of the health department, says meeting with a patient in person is always preferred. But he says expedited partner therapy may be a useful alternative.
Missouri is one of about two dozen states to enact such a law.
Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
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