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Single dose of antibiotic can prevent Syphilis, Gonorrhoea and other STDs

ANI | Updated: Jul 30, 2022 19:50 IST

Washington (United States) July 30 (ANI): In a new study it was revealed that if a person administers a single dose of a widely used, cheap antibiotic within 3 days of unprotected sexual intercourse, then it can help prevent the three types of Sexually Transmitted Diseases/ Infections (STDs) and (STIs).
Chlamydia, Syphilis and Gonorrhoea are the STDs that can be prevented by taking a single dose of antibiotics. These infections are common in men who chose to have sex with other men (MSM) and the cases of such STDs and STIs have claimed up in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere over the past 2 decades.
As cited in Science journal, largely in men who have sex with men (MSM) in San Francisco and Seattle, was halted in May after an independent data monitoring board found that the strategy, known as doxycycline postexposure prophylaxis (doxyPEP), reduced the risk of chlamydia and Gonorrhoea by more than 60%.
DoxyPEP also appeared to protect against syphilis, but too few cases occurred during the trial to reach statistical significance. The data were scheduled to be presented this week at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal.
"This is very encouraging," says Carlos del Rio, an HIV/AIDS clinician and researcher at Emory University School of Medicine. But there are worries the regimen could trigger antibiotic resistance in the three bacteria that cause these diseases, and scientists are divided about whether the data warrant doxyPEP's introduction now. "It is still a controversial topic," says Jean-Michel Molina of the University of Paris Cite, who led a similar, smaller study in France a few years ago. "I don't think we know enough to recommend the strategy yet," the Journal claimed.
Doxycycline, a relative of the antibiotic tetracycline, is commonly used to treat and prevent acne and Lyme disease. It also acts on parasites and is widely prescribed to prevent malaria in travellers. The drug typically has few side effects beyond stomach upset and increased sensitivity to sunlight.
Preventing bacterial STIs in MSM became more important in part because of the success of antiretrovirals against HIV. The drugs can lower the levels of the virus in infected people so substantially that they rarely transmit it and can also protect uninfected people who take these pills regularly before sex as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
The journal explained that in a study done by enrolling 544 participants--mostly MSM, but also some transgender women and gender diverse people--were deemed at high risk for STIs. Two-thirds of them were asked to follow a protocol similar to the one in the French study. The remaining participants received standard STI testing and treatment. Everyone knew what group they were in. "We really wanted to do a study in a fairly real-world setting," says one of the principal investigators, Annie Luetkemeyer, an infectious disease clinician at the University of California, San Francisco.
Researchers differ on whether doxyPEP's benefits outweigh the risk of driving antibiotic resistance. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, unlike the bacteria that cause the other two STIs, readily develop resistance.
However, Christopher Fairley who heads the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre at Monash University, Clayton, noted that the strategy may have other downsides. Antibiotics can disrupt the bacterial microbiome in the gut, for example, and resistance genes can jump between bacteria. Many Gonorrhea and chlamydia infections cause no symptoms, resolve without treatment, and are "of no great significance," he adds. (Untreated syphilis, in contrast, can damage the eyes, ears, and brain, and can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth in pregnant women.) (ANI)