Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Lack of physician training may cause California patients to have recurrent STD infections

Teenagers make up almost half of the individuals in the U.S. who are infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, part of the problem is that prospective pediatricians doing their residency in California may not be receiving instruction on partner therapy, which, by law, ensures that both sexual participants get treatment to avoid re-infections. The physician is allowed, in this case, to prescribe two orders of antibiotics at once without having to see the other partner.

"Unless you treat the partner, your patient gets re-infected," said Neville Golden, M.D., the senior author of the study. "We call this the 'ping-pong effect.'"

It's important to provide antibiotic treatment to both partners because 40 percent of teen cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia are diagnosed a second time for the same STD within a year's time. Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital analyzed the knowledge of such a therapy among physicians-in-training. The study's investigators found that half of the residents were not aware that they had to use the protocol, which was introduced by California legislature in 2001. Since then, it has proven to be effective and diminished the need for both partners to go to the doctor in order to get a prescription.

Golden stressed that it's crucial that teens avoid STDs in the first place so they don't have to deal with getting treatment.

"If parents can speak to their children about protecting against sexually transmitted infections, that's very useful," he said. "Obviously, using protection such as condoms is the best way to prevent these infections."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are four times more likely to get diagnosed with chlamydia and gonorrhea, as compared to the total population.