HARRISBURG – Rep. Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) and Rep. Michael H. Schlossberg (D-Lehigh) introduced a bill this week to authorize Expedited Partner Therapy as an option for those diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
If passed, House Bill 2229
would allow health care providers treating a patient to also provide a prescription for their partner in the absence of medical evaluation.
Sexually transmitted infection rates have hit an all-time high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Expedited Partner Therapy be available to all health care providers as a useful option for treatable sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, to reduce rates of reinfection, protect both partners and reduce damage to a woman’s reproductive system. According to the CDC, studies have shown patients whose partners received the therapy were 29% less likely to be reinfected compared to those who simply told their partners to visit the doctor.
Preventing partner reinfection especially benefits women. Among the adverse outcomes, chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the leading causes of preventable infertility. Chlamydia has also been linked to ovarian cancer. While chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily treated with antibiotics, many women may not realize they have an infection because of the lack of noticeable symptoms. Unfortunately, the longer the infection is left untreated, the more damage that can be done.
Pregnant women and newborns are also particularly vulnerable. In pregnant women, chlamydia infection can cause premature delivery. Babies born to an infected mother with chlamydia can develop infection in their eyes and respiratory tracts. A pregnant woman with untreated gonorrhea may have an increased risk of miscarriage or premature delivery. Babies born to infected mothers with gonorrhea are at increased risk for blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection.
“Dauphin County was second, trailing only behind Philadelphia County, in the high rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. These are treatable conditions, but they can cause long-term health problems if not addressed quickly,” Mehaffie said.
Expedited Partner Therapy is also supported by leading medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Nurse Midwives among others. The majority of states, including Ohio and Delaware, have already enacted laws and adopted policies to expressly provide clinicians with the option of Expedited Partner Therapy. A companion version received the full support of the Senate Health & Human Services committee in late 2019.
Representative Thomas Mehaffie
106th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch