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Can I Get STD Medicine For My Partner?

Written on September 19, 2023 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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You may be wondering, “Can I get STD medicine for my partner?” According to the New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch, ordinarily, clinicians cannot prescribe medications for a person they have not seen. However, preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is a public health priority and is considered so important that most states now legally allow clinicians to provide the required treatment not only for yourself but also for your sex partners. You may also receive written information to give to your partner, including the type of infection, why treatment is needed, how it works, any side effects, and who should not take it. This means that your partner can get treated at the same time you do, making it far less likely you'll get reinfected.[1]

This practice is called Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides an in-depth overview of what EPT is, how it works, and which STIs are recommended for EPT.

What Is EPT?

EPT is the clinical practice of treating the sex partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea by providing prescriptions or medications to the patient to take to his/her partner without the health care provider first examining the partner.

Effective clinical management of patients with treatable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) requires treatment of the patients’ current sex partners to prevent reinfection and curtail further transmission. The standard approach to partner treatment has included clinical evaluation in a healthcare setting, with partner notification accomplished by the index patient, by the provider, or an agent of the provider, or a combination of these methods. Provider-assisted referral is considered the optimal strategy for partner treatment but is not available to most patients with gonorrhea or chlamydial infection because of resource limitations.

CDC has concluded that EPT is a useful option to facilitate partner management, particularly for the treatment of male partners of women with chlamydial infection or gonorrhea. Although ongoing evaluation will be needed to define when and how EPT can be best utilized, the evidence indicates that EPT should be available to clinicians as an option for partner treatment. EPT represents an additional strategy for partner management that does not replace other strategies, such as provider-assisted referral, when available.[2]

Private STD consultations

Which STIs Are Recommended For EPT?

According to CDC 2006 guidance, EPT is at least equivalent to patient referral in preventing persistent or recurrent gonorrhea or chlamydial infection in heterosexual men and women and in its association with several desirable behavioral outcomes.

These conclusions support the following recommendations[3]:

  • Gonorrhea and chlamydial infection in women: EPT can be used to treat partners as an option when other management strategies are impractical or unsuccessful. Symptomatic male partners should be encouraged to seek medical attention, in addition to accepting therapy by EPT, through counseling of the index case, written materials, and/or personal counseling by a pharmacist or other personnel.
  • Gonorrhea and chlamydial infection in men: EPT can be used to treat partners as an option when other management strategies are impractical or unsuccessful. Female recipients of EPT should be strongly encouraged to seek medical attention in addition to accepting therapy. This should be accomplished through written materials that accompany medication, by counseling of the index case, and, when practical, through personal counseling by a pharmacist or other personnel. It is particularly important that female recipients of EPT who have symptoms that suggest acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), such as abdominal or pelvic pain, seek medical attention.

State EPT Laws

In response to CDC’s 2006 recommendations, several states have adopted laws and regulations to implement EPT. Most of these state policies follow the CDC guidelines and recommend this course of treatment for gonorrhea and chlamydia infections. In other cases, states allow EPT for the treatment of all STIs or only for specific infections, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis. Several of these states encourage or require the health care practitioner to provide information about STIs to the patient to give to their partner.

Specifically [4]:

  • 38 states and the District of Columbia allow healthcare practitioners to provide at least some STI treatment for the partner of a patient diagnosed with an STI without first examining the partner.
  • 8 states allow treatment for all or most STIs.
  • 30 states and the District of Columbia permit treatment for specific STIs.
  • 30 states and the District of Columbia allow treatment for chlamydia.
  • 28 states and the District of Columbia allow treatment for gonorrhea.
  • 6 states and the District of Columbia permit treatment for trichomoniasis.
  • 15 states and the District of Columbia encourage or require healthcare practitioners to provide patients with information about STIs to give to their partners.

What Does Everlywell Offer?

Everlywell does not prescribe treatments for partners who do not seek a consultation. For example, Partner B would need a consult if Partner A tests positive. Partner A can not just get a Rx for Partner B.

Everlywell offers online STD consults in two hours or less. Fast and discreet STD care is just a click away. Create your health profile and complete an insurance coverage check (if paying with insurance). Book an on-demand video call and speak to a clinician within 2 hours. Get treatment and have a prescription sent directly to your pharmacy (if applicable).

At-home diagnostic kits for several STDs are also available, such as for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.

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  1. Judge DE. Expedited Partner Therapy: STI Treatment for You and Your Partner. NEJM Journal Watch. 10/10/2019. https://www.jwatch.org/na49583/2019/10/10/expedited-partner-therapy-sti-treatment-you-and-your.
  2. Expedited Partner Therapy. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/std/ept/default.htm. Last reviewed on 4/19/2021. Accessed on 9/8/2023.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Expedited partner therapy in the management of sexually transmitted diseases. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, 2006. https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/eptfinalreport2006.pdf.
  4. Partner Treatment for STIs: State Laws and Policies. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/partner-treatment-stis. 8/31/2023. Accessed on 9/8/2023.
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