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New law changes STD treatment options in Missouri

By Elana Gordon, KCUR

Kansas City, Mo. – Missouri has a new approach to combat sexually transmitted diseases.

A new state law allows doctors to prescribe medication for a patient's partner without requiring a separate, in person exam.

Tiffany Wilkinson is with the Kansas City Health Department. She says traditionally, patients who test positive for an STD can refer their partners to a doctor or a local health department.

But, she says some of the partners never get an exam. And, she says it can be a challenge for health workers to keep up.

"It's very hard with limited public health resources to identify all those individuals' partners and make sure they get treated," Wilkinson said. "So this will help us eventually, hopefully be able to reduce that number and get the appropriate individuals treated."

About two dozen states have similar laws. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found the approach useful, but many doctors say a face-to-face meeting with the sexual partners of STD sufferers is ideal.

Last year the city of St. Louis had the highest Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates of any county or independent city in the United States; this year it dropped to number two.