Public health programs promoting and providing free expedited partner therapy may increase use of the intervention, according to recently published data.
Researchers at the University of Washington enrolled 23 local health jurisdictions in Washington to offer free patient-delivered partner therapy and partner services to heterosexual participants with gonorrhea or chlamydia. Participating jurisdictions were randomly assigned to one of four study groups, which independently instituted the intervention over 6- to 8-month intervals. Primary outcomes were reported intervention uptake, chlamydia test positivity among women aged 14 years to 25 years and incidence of reported gonorrhea.
“Increasing the number of exposed sex partners of persons with gonorrhea or chlamydial infection who receive treatment could decrease the incidence and prevalence of infection,” the researchers wrote. “However, few US health departments currently devote substantial resources to partner services for bacterial STIs other than syphilis, and over 80% of patients with gonorrhea or chlamydial infection are left to notify their partners without assistance.”
Researchers found an increase in those receiving patient-delivered partner therapy from clinicians from 18% to 34% (P<.001) following intervention, as well as an increase in the receipt of partner services from 25% to 45% (P<.001). Although there were declines in the prevalence rate ratios of chlamydia (0.89; 95% CI, 0.77-1.04) and gonorrhea (0.91; 95% CI, 0.71-1.16) during the study period, it was not seen as statistically significant.
“We found that a public health intervention could significantly increase both medical providers’ use of patient-delivered partner therapy and the targeted provision of partner services in a state with a population over 6.5 million,” the researchers wrote. “Given existing evidence and guidelines in support of expedited partner therapy, we believe that continued and expanded use of the intervention is warranted, and that the design of our program can be a model for health departments seeking to increase expedited partner therapy use.”
Disclosure: Pfizer provided free azithromycin that was used in the study. One researcher reported receiving research support from Cempra and research support and a consulting fee from Melinta Therapeutics.