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Anonymous Prescriptions for STDs Could Get Committee Support in Utah

Armen Hareyan's picture

Due to increases in sexually transmitted diseases in Utah, the Legislature's Health and Human Services Interim Committee on Wednesday generally endorsed a bill that would allow a physician to provide a prescription to unnamed sexual partners of people who have been diagnosed with an STD.

After discussing concerns raised by Sen. Allen Christensen (R-North Ogden), the committee postponed an official vote of the bill and agreed to discuss it again at their November meeting.

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In the past five years, cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea have risen significantly in Utah, especially among residents ages 15 to 24, according to the health department. Chlamydia reports have increased by 48 percent and gonorrhea cases by 123 percent. More than two-thirds of chlamydia cases in 2007 - 69 percent - were among females.

"If people living in this healthy, high morals-based society think that we don't have a problem with sexually transmitted diseases, that is counter to reality," said state Department of Health Director Dr. David Sundwall. Outbreaks of STDs have been statewide, and not just in urban areas, he added.

Surveys show that many adolescents and young adults do not understand the risks of oral sex in terms of sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, many Utahans in this age group do not consider oral sex to be sex.

Physicians would use their best medical judgment when deciding whether to write a prescription for sexual partners of their patients, supporters of the bill say.