As STDs are on the rise, a new study claims that taking a common antibiotic after having unprotected sex can help prevent common sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.
The study, published in the journal Science, was conducted on a majority of queer men and found that the antibiotic reduced the risk of chlamydia and gonorrhea by 60%. Results will be presented at the Annual International Aids Conference in Montreal.
The study involved 544 participants deemed at high risk of STIs. A group of participants was asked to take the antibiotic after having unprotected sex, while another one simply received standard STI tests and treatment. Participants were informed of their group.
The antibiotic is called doxyPEP and it normally has few side effects, commonly used to treat conditions like acne and Lyme disease and can be used to treat parasites like Malaria. The study was so successful in preventing STDs that researchers didn’t have to continue the study. “This is very encouraging,” said Carlos del Rio, an HIV/AIDS clinician at Emory University School of Medicine.
Still, there are some caveats. Researchers think that using the medicine post unprotected sex could develop resistance within the body and stop working as effectively. They also argue that some STDs resolve on their own and have relatively few symptoms and side effects, with antibiotics producing effects in the gut that may be uncomfortable.
Despite the caveats, it’s an important study, one that could lead to real-world results soon, particularly for queer men, a demographic that’s exposed to rising numbers of STDs. Currently, the CDC recommends getting tested for STDs often, getting the necessary vaccines, and using condoms regularly.