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With respect to the above issues, the committee makes the following recommendation:
State and local health departments, with the assistance of the CDC, should redesign current partner notification activities for curable STDs in public health clinics to improve outreach, mobilize public health staff in new ways, and enlist support from community groups or other programs that provide services to high-risk populations.
Partner diagnosis and treatment should be provided as part of standard STD-related care, regardless of the clinical setting. The committee believes that health plans and clinicians have an ethical and public health obligation to ensure that sex partners of infected patients are appropriately identified, screened, and treated, regardless of health insurance status. This belief is based on the concept that health plans have a responsibility to improve the health of the communities from which they draw their revenue and that treating partners is in both the short- and long-term interest of the health plan. By treating partners, the health plan ensures that plan members will not be reinfected, and the reservoir of infection in the community will be reduced.
With respect to the above issues, the committee makes the following recommendations:
All health plans and clinicians should take responsibility for partner treatment and provide STD diagnosis and treatment to sex partners of plan members or others under their care as part of standard clinical practice. Diagnosis and treatment of partners should be reimbursable by third-party payers, including Medicaid, or by the partner's health plan if he or she is insured.
Public sector laboratories should be reimbursed for STD-related laboratory tests performed on persons who have private health insurance coverage.