Can a ‘morning-after pill’ prevent STIs?

new york –

U.S. health officials released data on Tuesday showing how cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are accelerating, but doctors hope the old drug can help fight sexually transmitted diseases. increase.

STIs are on the rise, experts believe, due to decreased condom use, inadequate sex education, and reduced testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Millions of Americans are infected each year. Rates are highest among men who have sex with men, and among blacks, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans.

“STIs are a significant, low-priority public health problem. “I did,” said Dr. John. M. Douglas Jr. is a retired health official who lectures at the Colorado School of Public Health.

Many doctors looking to turn the tide are turning to doxycycline, a cheap antibiotic that has been on the market for over 50 years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is drafting recommendations for use as a kind of morning-after pill to prevent STDs, said Dr. Leandro Mena, director of the agency’s STD prevention division.

This drug is already used to treat various infections. A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine showed it could prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

In this study, approximately 500 gay, bisexual, and transgender women in Seattle and San Francisco who had a sexually transmitted infection took one doxycycline tablet within 72 hours of unprotected sex. People who took the pill were about 90% less likely to get chlamydia, about 80% less likely to get syphilis, and more than 50% less likely to get gonorrhea after sex than people who didn’t take the pill. It was discovered by researchers.

The study, led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and based on a similar French study, showed promise for the idea.

“We need new approaches, new innovations” to help control sexually transmitted infections, said Dr. Philip Andrew Chan, who consults with the CDC on doxycycline recommendations.

CDC’s Mena said there were no signs the STD trend was slowing.

Mississippi had the highest rate of gonorrhea, according to 2021 CDC data released Tuesday. Alaska has seen a sharp rise in chlamydia infection rates, surpassing Mississippi to become the number one state. South Dakota had the highest rate of early syphilis.

And Arizona had the tragic distinction of having the highest rate of infected mothers passing syphilis to their babies, which can lead to child death and health problems such as deafness and blindness.

Using antibiotics to prevent these kinds of infections “isn’t going to be a silver bullet, but it will be another tool,” says Brown University’s Gay Health Center. said Chan, chief medical officer at Open Door Health, a Lesbian and transgender patients in Providence, Rhode Island.

Experts noted that there are many factors that the CDC should consider when making its recommendations.

Among them: This drug can cause side effects such as stomach problems and rashes after sun exposure. Also, the widespread use of doxycycline as a prophylaxis may contribute to mutations that render the bacteria impermeable to the drug, as has happened with previous antibiotics.

Nonetheless, in October the San Francisco Public Health Department became the first U.S. Department of Health to issue guidance on doxycycline as an infection control measure. Antibiotics are recommended for patients with

Derrick Woods-Morrow, 33-year-old artist and assistant professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, is an early adopter. Woods-Morrow said he doesn’t like condoms. But he wants to stay healthy.

About 10 years ago, he started taking antiviral drugs before sex to protect against HIV infection. Five years ago, a doctor told him about research into whether doxycycline could protect people from other diseases.

“I thought it was probably in my best interest to protect myself and my partner,” he said. , or said he had never tested positive for syphilis.

“I think it’s a tool for regaining the sexual freedom that someone has lost, and for enjoying sex and interacting with people from the bottom of their hearts,” he said.


The Associated Press’ Health Sciences Division is supported by the Scientific and Educational Media Group at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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