Antibiotics made available for sex partners of chlamydia patients

The sex partners of anyone infected with chlamydia will be able to get a prescription for antibiotic treatment without seeing a doctor, under new regulations approved this morning by Massachusetts public health regulators.

The new rules aim to thwart the rapid spread of the disease, now the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection in the United States and in Massachusetts. Among people under 25, the disease is especially prevalent, and health officials say it is endemic in some Boston neighborhoods.

The number of chlamydia cases in the state has more than doubled, from roughly 8,700 in 1999 to more than 18,800 in 2009, the most recent data available from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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“Right now if you treat someone and cure them, they could literally be reinfected within hours or days from an untreated sexual partner,’’ said Kevin Cranston, director of the infectious disease bureau at the state’s Department of Public Health.

The new regulations approved today by the state Public Health Council, an appointed body of physicians and public health officials, will allow health care providers to prescribe or dispense antibiotics to treat chlamydia infections in the sexual partners of infected patients without examining the partners.

State lawmakers last year approved legislation allowing the change, and directed regulators to craft new rules.

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