A cheap antibiotic, doxycycline, may help slow down the growing epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reportedly drafting recommendations for consuming doxycycline as a preventative measure for STDs.
The CDC reports that over 2.5 million people were diagnosed with STDs in 2021 alone, and this reimagining of the medication comes as a response to this problem. Dr John M. Douglas Jr., a retired health official who lectures at the Colorado School of Public Health, believes STDs have been considered a low-priority public health problem for decades.
Doxycycline is a medication that effectively combats STDs, specifically gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and syphilis. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine followed 500 gay men, bisexual men, and transgender women and found that taking a 200-milligram pill of doxycycline within three days of unprotected sex reduced bacterial STIs by two-thirds every three months.
The study found that doxycycline is effective in treating syphilis but has limitations. It is not effective in heterosexual women and may have side effects. The CDC is consulting with a doctor who specializes in STD treatments to come up with recommendations for using doxycycline.
Dr Connie Celum is a professor at the University of Washington, and she has expressed optimism about the potential of doxycycline as a preventative measure for high-risk populations. She also emphasized the need to monitor the impact of doxycycline on antibiotic resistance over time.
Dr Celum believes that doxycycline is a promising solution for these high-risk populations, who are at greater risk of STIs than the general population and may not have access to regular screenings. She noted that it could be used as an alternative to PrEP, which can be expensive and difficult to access in certain parts of the world.
However, Dr Celum also highlighted the importance of ensuring that doxycycline use does not lead to antibiotic resistance over time by closely monitoring its impact on bacterial populations in those areas where it is being used.
The NYC health department has released new data that shows a significant spike in STD cases across the city following the lifting of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. For example, chlamydia cases rose by 10% between 2020 and 2021, while the rate of women diagnosed with primary and secondary syphilis surged by 28.7%.
The CDC has contacted researchers to comment on doxycycline as a potential preventative measure against STDs. Researchers hope this inexpensive antibiotic could be a valuable addition to existing strategies in combatting the STD epidemic in the US.
Studies are ongoing to confirm the efficacy of doxycycline in treating and preventing STDs, but the early results show promise. Researchers are investigating how well doxycycline reduces the risk of transmission when taken daily by those exposed to an STD. Additionally, researchers will examine whether or not regular use of doxycycline could reduce symptoms associated with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis if a person is already infected. If proven effective for prevention and treatment, doxycycline could offer a simple solution that would drastically reduce rates of STDs across the US.
In addition to being an accessible and affordable option for people without health insurance or access to healthcare services, it has also been touted as a potential additional protective measure for those engaging in high-risk behaviours.