What to Do When You Get an STD

What to Do When You Get an STD

Reduce your risk of contracting and spreading STDs with these expert tips.

In 2012, an Oregon woman who sued her date for giving her genital herpes won $900,000. And one tycoon allegedly paid $52 million for giving chlamydia to his mistress. Seems sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a growth industry for lawyers! Perhaps that’s because nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were diagnosed in the US in 2017; 200,000 more than in 2016, according to the CDC.

The good news is those STDs, if diagnosed and treated correctly, are curable. The bad news? Too often, when one person is diagnosed and treated, the partner(s) isn’t.

To overcome that lag—and stop further spread of STDs—the CDC advocates Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) for STDs. This practice encourages states to allow doctors who diagnose a patient with an STD to write a prescription or provide medications for that person’s partner, sight unseen, and clinics and pharmacies to distribute treatment for partners. However, seven states and Puerto Rico don’t advocate EPT and South Carolina and Kentucky don’t allow it.

A study in the American Journal of Public Health urges docs (and states) to use EPT. But you need to reduce your risk of getting and transmitting STDs.

  • Use a condom, unless you’re tested, clear and monogamous. 
  • If you suspect an STD, get tested.
  • If you have an STD, get treated and ask for ETP.
  • If you have an STD, tell your partner before you’re intimate. That protects your partner from terrible surprises and in most states that protects you legally, if you transmit the infection.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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