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Study: Partner-delivered drugs are effective in treating some STDs

Study: Partner-delivered drugs are effective in treating some STDs

Providing patients infected by chlamydia or gonorrhea with medicine to pass on to their possibly infected partners is an effective method of sexually transmitted disease control and prevention, according to a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. "It decreases those patients' risk of being reinfected, and increases their partners' chance of being treated," said lead study author Matthew Golden, acting director of the STD Control Program for Seattle and King County Public Health. The study tracked 1,860 Seattle-area patients diagnosed with gonorrhea or chlamydia. Half were told to contact their current and former sex partners and urge them to seek treatment--the standard procedure. The other participants were provided with antibiotics to give to their sex partners. No medical exam was required for the partners. Compared to the control group, gonorrhea patients who gave medicine directly to their partners were 73% less likely to be infected at their three-month checkup, and chlamydia patients were 15% less likely to be infected. The researchers speculated the success rate was lower for chlamydia patients because the antibiotics used to treat it are less effective, especially for women, than the medication for gonorrhea. The researchers acknowledged that allergic reactions or bad drug interactions could pose a problem. All partners' drug packages contained drug information, and none of the study's partners reported any ill effect. Larger hurdles, they said, are state laws or regulations that could prevent patients from giving prescription medicines to their partners. Just four states explicitly allow this type of treatment, while most states have laws that are vague and doctors may be hesitant to take the risk. "Overcoming these legal and regulatory barriers may require substantial advocacy and perseverance," the researchers wrote. (AP)

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