CDC Recommends ‘Morning-After Pill’ Antibiotic Against STDs

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Oct. 3, 2023 – U.S. health officials want the nation’s health care providers to consider prescribing a common antibiotic to gay and bisexual men for use as a morning-after pill to prevent common sexually transmitted diseases.

STD rates have risen to record levels recently, and the CDC’s draft recommendations suggests using doxycycline “because it has demonstrated benefit in reducing chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis infections and represents a new approach to addressing STI prevention in populations at increased risk for these infections.” 

Doxycycline is an inexpensive antibiotic that has been in use for more than 40 years, including for acne, chlamydia, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

study published in April in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that using doxycycline made it less likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis by two-thirds among men who have sex with men.

In medical circles, this type of medicine use is known as post-exposure prophylaxis. 

“Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) involves taking a medication to prevent an infection after a possible exposure and is a common strategy for prevention of HIV and other infections,” the CDC proposal states.

After the study was published in April, the California Department of Public Health recommended the preventive treatment for use by “all non-pregnant individuals,” noting that it can be effectively taken “within 72 hours after condom-less oral, anal, or vaginal sex.”

Comments about the CDC’s proposal can be made online until Nov. 16.