Expedited Partner Therapy: Limiting the Spread of Chlamydia in New York State

What is "Expedited Partner Therapy"?

Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) is a program in New York State that allows a health care provider (doctor, nurse practitioner) to prescribe certain antibiotics (medicine) to the sexual partner(s) of a person diagnosed with chlamydia.

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is the most common reportable disease in New York State.

  • Chlamydia is caused by bacteria that enter the body during sexual activity. It can infect the genitals (penis or vagina), the mouth, throat or anus. Chlamydia is spread through unprotected sex with someone who is already infected.
  • Most people do not have any symptoms of chlamydia infection, but some people may have an itching or burning feeling when they urinate. They may notice a yellow-white fluid from their urethra (the tube that people urinate from). Women may also notice this fluid from their cervix (the opening to the womb). These symptoms usually appear 1 to 3 weeks after infection.
  • Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems.

In women, the infection may spread to other reproductive organs. This is called pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. PID can cause belly pain or pain around the pelvis, fever, and possibly infertility (the inability to have children) or ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus).

In men, the infection can spread to the testicles. This can cause painful swelling, and can lead to sterility (the inability to make sperm and father children).

Why is EPT important?

EPT lets people get treated for chlamydia quickly, and without needing to see a health care provider. By getting rid of these steps, people can be treated faster. This reduces the spread of chlamydia.

Even if your partner(s) take the medicine for EPT, they should get tested for other STDs and HIV. They should call their health care provider or local health department to find an STD/HIV testing center near them. Local health department STD clinics are listed online.

We need your help!

Chlamydia infections can often go undiagnosed.  Half of men and up to three out of four women with chlamydia don’t have symptoms.  EPT helps to treat people who otherwise might not get medical help.

What is involved with EPT?

If your partner(s) can get EPT, your health care provider can either give you:

  • A prescription for the medicine to treat chlamydia, or
  • Medicine to give to your partner(s).

Your health care provider will also give you information to give to your partner(s). This information will help your partner(s) learn about chlamydia and EPT. It will also give your partner(s) information about the medicine, how to take the medicine, and possible side effects.

How does EPT affect me?

EPT is a voluntary program, which means that you don’t have to give information that you don’t feel comfortable giving. Your health care provider, pharmacist and local health department staff will do everything they can to ensure your privacy.

Not everyone is eligible for EPT.  If you also have syphilis, gonorrhea or HIV, your health care provider is not permitted to use EPT for your partner(s).  Instead, he/she should provide you with information about these infections and give you proper treatment.  Your partner(s) should see a health care provider to be tested for STDs and HIV. 

It is important to understand that there are several other STDs that can be present at the same time as chlamydia, such as genital herpes, genital warts (HPV), and trichomoniasis.  You and your partner(s) should be tested for these as well, even if your health care provider uses EPT for your partner(s).

Your health care provider can also connect you with people that are trained to help you to make a plan to talk with your partner(s).  This program is called Partner Services.

To learn more

If you have any more questions about Expedited Partner Therapy or chlamydia, or you need to know the location of the nearest STD clinic, contact your local health department.

Expedited Partner Therapy is allowable under NYS Public Health Law, Section 2312.