Friday, January 16, 2009

Controlling the Spread of STI's

The Baltimore Sun recently reported the results of a 3 month long study examining the reinfection rate among individuals who tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and were prescribed additional antibiotics to treat their partner(s). The study showed a 41% decrease in reinfection rate, dropping from 3.9% to 2.3%. While this is a low percentage, the reinfection rate is closer to 15% over a 6-12 month span.

There were initial concerns about the safety of providing prescription drugs to individuals who had not been examined by a physician. However, the growing number of STI cases and the reality that many STIs remain undiagnosed provide a compelling reason to support this innovative program.

Fifteen states have already legalized this practice, and while Maryland is not one of the 15, the promising results of the Baltimore study may soon persuade Governor O’Malley to extend the pilot program statewide. Such an action may offer great gains in controlling the spread of STI’s by giving high-risk individuals access to treatment without being hindered by obstacles to receiving medical care.

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