CDC May Soon Recommend Use of Popular Antibiotic to Prevent STIs

Only certain STIs, and only among certain at-risk groups, however
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2023 3:00 AM CDT
There May Soon Be a 'Morning After' Pill for Some STIs
FILE - A pharmacist holds a bottle of the antibiotic doxycycline hyclate in Sacramento, Calif., July 8, 2016.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

There's now a "morning after" pill, of sorts, for the prevention of certain STIs within certain groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday posted a draft recommendation of guidelines for health care providers; under the new guidance, doctors would be advised to consider prescribing a widely used antibiotic to those at-risk groups (gay or bisexual men, transgender women) after unprotected sex, CNN reports. The antibiotic, doxycycline, has been shown to be effective in preventing chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis infections in men who have sex with other men if taken within 72 hours of exposure. When used in this way, as post-exposure prophylaxis, the regimen is referred to as doxyPEP, and its use could possibly prevent 40% of sexually transmitted infections in the impacted groups, the Hill reports.

Doxycycline is also used to treat those same bacterial STIs, and some physicians and local health departments are increasingly using it off-label as a preventative measure since studies started showing its effectiveness when used in that way. "This is not a new concept, the concept of post-exposure prophylaxis," said one infectious diseases expert in August. "We use it for a number of other infectious diseases like Lyme disease. If someone's been bitten by a tick and there's concern that they might have been exposed to Lyme disease, they can be given a single dose of doxycycline." Similarly, a single 200mg dose would be recommended if the CDC's guidance, which is up for public comment for until November 16, is made official. (Read more sexually transmitted infections stories.)

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