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Oklahoma bill could broaden how providers treat sexually transmitted infections

This 1975 microscope file image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria magnified 200X.
AP
This 1975 microscope file image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria magnified 200X.

A bill moving through the Oklahoma Legislature could allow health care providers to treat a patient's sexual partner for sexually transmitted infections when the initial patient is diagnosed. This practice would allow sexual partners to receive treatment without being evaluated, and it’s already legal in 46 states.

It’s called expedited partner therapy, which is a harm-reduction strategy that allows patients to provide their partners with medications they’ve been prescribed to treat sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. Senate Bill 1491, authored by Sen. Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan) and Rep. Cynthia Roe (R-Lindsay), would legalize the practice in Oklahoma.

SB 1491 would extend this right to health care providers, which the bill defines as allopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians, physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses licensed in Oklahoma and authorized to prescribe drugs. It was amended in the House Public Health Committee Tuesday to clarify that expedited partner therapy won’t apply to chronic sexually transmitted diseases.

“I saw this in primary care, and I'm sure other health care providers too. Frequently, the partner of the individual does not get treated,” Roe, a former nurse practitioner, said.

Roe’s personal experience as a nurse practitioner aligns with research from clinical trials, which found more partners are treated for sexually transmitted diseases when patients are offered expedited partner therapy.

The bill was approved unanimously by the Oklahoma House Public Health Committee. Because it was amended, it must pass the House floor and Senate floor again to reach the governor’s desk.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Jillian Taylor reports on health and related topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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