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FOR RELEASE: October 18, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Premarital Blood Tests for Syphilis No Longer Required

Getting married soon?

If so, among the many items on your “to do” list may be to get your premarital blood test, but effective November 1, this test will no longer be required in Oklahoma before couples get their marriage license.

The Oklahoma Legislature enacted legislation this past session that removes the premarital blood test as a condition to obtaining a marriage license.

“The law had outlived its usefulness in disease prevention and control,” says William R. Pierson, chief of the HIV/STD Service at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

“Nearly a half century ago, the premarital blood test for syphilis was useful. New testing and treatment procedures had become available for syphilis, so if a man or woman tested positive, we were able to treat them for the disease,” he explained. “Now, 50 years later, the disease has shifted and couples planning to be married are far less likely to test positive for syphilis, so the test is no longer productive. We are better able to target those who have syphilis infection using other means.”

Pierson said in the last five years, about 300,000 premarital tests for syphilis have been performed in Oklahoma. Of that number, only five new cases of syphilis were confirmed.

The new legislation will mean a cost savings for couples who will no longer have to pay for a blood test. It will also provide a significant savings for the state health department’s Public Health Laboratory, which processed about 5,000 of the approximately 60,000 premarital blood tests conducted in the state each year.

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