US health officials advise using antibiotic as a ‘morning-after pill’ against STDs

In a recent announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that some individuals should consider using an antibiotic as a morning-after pill to prevent certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Specifically, the CDC recommended taking doxycycline after unprotected sex as a means to prevent chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis infections. This endorsement is significant as it marks the first new prevention tool against STDs in decades. The CDC emphasized the need for innovation in this area, as rates of syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea have been steadily increasing, particularly among gay and bisexual men. However, recent data suggests that cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea may have plateaued in 2022.
The latest guideline focuses on gay and bisexual men as well as transgender women who have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the past year and are at high risk of reinfection. While studies have shown that doxycycline is effective for this group, there is insufficient evidence to make the same recommendation for others, according to officials from the agency.

This treatment, known as doxy PEP (doxycycline postexposure prophylaxis), involves a single dose of 200 milligrams of doxycycline prescribed by doctors to be taken within three days of unprotected sex, as stated by the CDC.

In October, a draft version of the guidelines was released by the CDC. After a period of public comment, some changes were made to the proposed language. These changes include specifying that the pills should only be taken once every 24 hours and that doctors should reassess the treatment plan with patients every three to six months.