Treatment for partners of patients with STDs reduces recurrence

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 7, 2005

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Patients with gonorrhea or chlamydial infection benefit from being given medication for their partners as well as for themselves, according to a study published in the Feb. 17 New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers at the University of Washington National Institutes of Health STD Cooperative Research Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of STD Prevention randomized patients diagnosed with these STDs to one of two interventions.

One group received the usual advice that their partners should come in as well. Those in the other group were offered medication for their partner or the option of having a staff member contact the partners directly and offer medication without a clinical examination.

After five months, only 3% of patients in the intervention group returned with a recurrent gonorrhea infection, while 11% in the usual care group did so. The intervention had less impact on chlamydia, although it was still significant, with 11% of the intervention group returning with another infection. Thirteen percent of the control group did so.

An accompanying editorial advocated that immediate access to antibiotics could stem the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

"Traditional approaches to informing partners -- in which the patients themselves must notify their sexual partners, who are then expected to seek medication evaluation and treatment -- simply do not work well enough," said Emily Ebelding, MD, MPH, lead author on the editorial and associated professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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