Lawmakers in Hawaii continue to make changes to a bill that would make it permissible for doctors there to prescribe medication to the partners of individuals with sexually transmitted diseases without examining them first.
According to The Honolulu Civil Beat, Senate bill 655 was introduced in January 2013, and along the way was changed to only include heterosexuals. Apparently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not routinely recommend the practice - known as expedited partner therapy - for gay couples because treatment often involves intravenous medications rather than oral antibiotics.
However, the newspaper reported that the bill was recently amended to open up EPT for everyone, including homosexuals.
"My single priority is to make as many people healthy as possible," Sen. Josh Green, M.D., told the the news provider.
He introduced the bill and said that it was never meant to discriminate against any group of people.
Hawaii's House of Representatives is expected to vote on the expedited partner therapy bill in an upcoming session.
The case for EPT
Proponents of EPT laws state that treating the sexual partners of those diagnosed with STDs, such as chlamydia, without an office visit is a positive step in curbing the spread of disease.
The CDC reports that chlamydia is a common STD. Both men and women can get the infection by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person. However, many of those who have the STD do not experience symptoms and unknowingly give it to their sexual partners.
An increasing number of states have passed laws making EPT legal. In total, it is legally permissible in 32 states, potentially allowable in 11 states and prohibited in seven states. Many of the states in which the practice is not prohibited, but also not encouraged, are moving to pass laws so doctors do not hesitate to treat the partners of infected individuals without examining them first.
EPT guidance changed
While the CDC encourages the practice of preventing the spread of disease with EPT, it recently changed its stance on the practice when it comes to gonorrhea. Because some strains of the STD are becoming resistant to medications, the CDC recommends patients with gonorrhea undergo more aggressive treatment. While the government agency still deems EPT a considerable treatment, health officials state that the partners of those diagnosed with STD should be encouraged to see a healthcare provider to ensure they are adequately treated.
In general, individuals who know their sexual partners have been diagnosed with an STD should be tested to ensure they are not infected, as well. If left untreated, STDs can cause long-term health problems, including infertility.