A bill that would allow doctors in Nebraska to prescribe medication for the sexual partners of individuals with sexually transmitted diseases without being seen has reached the governor's desk to be signed into law.
Lawmakers approved legislative bill 528 with a vote of 37-9. However, it was amended before the final vote. In addition to prescribing medications to treat chlamydia and gonorrhea, doctors will be required to provide written information about the STDs for individuals they do not meet in person.
Nebraska is just one of several states moving to make it legal for doctors to treat the partners of those diagnosed with STDs without seeing them first. These laws are known as expedited partner therapy, or EPT. A similar law recently went into effect in Utah, while lawmakers in Hawaii continue to debate EPT.
Supporters say these laws help slow the spread of STDs, especially those that have become more prevalent in recent years. Opponents say they encourage sexual promiscuity.
The practice of providing medication for the sexual partners of people who have been diagnosed with an STD without an examination is supported by many health officials, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the agency warns that more aggressive strains of gonorrhea do warrant further treatment. A recent statement by the CDC said doctors can continue to treat the partners of affected individuals without testing them, but encouraged them to seek medical treatment as well to ensure the medication is effective.
More than 30 U.S. states currently have EPT laws in effect. The practice is also legally permissible, without being encouraged, in 11 other states. The CDC reports that seven states prohibit the practice: Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia.