Officials Propose Doxycycline for STDs After Unprotected Sex

U.S. health officials recommend using a common antibiotic, doxycycline, after possible exposure to common sexually transmitted diseases can work as a "morning after" STD pill..

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline was released on Monday and is now open for public comment.

It suggests using doxycycline as postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) for the prevention of common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, in trans women and gay and bisexual men.

Studies show that taking doxycycline within 72 hours of condomless sex significantly reduces the incidence of STDs without severe side effects.

For instance, recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that gay and bisexual men and transgender women who took doxycycline after unprotected sex were about 90% less likely to contract chlamydia, about 80% less likely to get syphilis, and about 50% less likely to catch gonorrhea compared with those who did not take the antibiotic.

Additionally, modeling data suggests doxycycline as postexposure prophylaxis could prevent about 39% STD cases in higher risk populations.

Doxycycline, a broad-spectrum tetracycline antibiotic that's been available for 40 years, is used to prevent infections such as malaria and Lyme disease. It is also recommended to treat chlamydia and as an alternative treatment for syphilis in patients with severe penicillin allergy or when penicillin is not available.

STD rates reached an all-time high in the United States and according to a recent CDC report, new cases of gonorrhea increased by 53% from 2015 to 2019, whereas new cases of syphilis rose by 71%.

The guideline offers a new approach to STD prevention when infection rates are skyrocketing.

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