PrEP Study Shows Promise for STI prevention

Tackling STIs

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have raised their incidence in the United Kingdom during the last decades, due to social changes in sexual behavior as well as other factors of importance. They have become a relevant matter for the public health system, as well as a great business niche for private companies. Sexual education, STI testings and treatments, and scientific studies are targeting sexually transmitted infections.

STIs can be caught by any sexually active person, even if some of them can also be transmitted via other means, like blood. However, certain people are at higher risk of catching an STI, due to their sexual behavior. Conditions that increase the probabilities to become infected with a disease are called risk factors, and some of them for STIs are: having more than one sexual partner, having unprotected sex, and having anal sex – which is more likely to transmit diseases due to the anatomophysiology of the rectum. This last case is especially common among gay men, so the male homosexual community is considered a high risk sector of the population.

For this reason, gay men have been selected for a pilot study on the preventive use of the antibiotic doxycyline to fight syphillis, a sexually transmitted infection. Although this study was focused on syphillis and HIV – with which this disease is heavily associated – the drug is proved to have effect on bacteria that cause many sexually transmitted infections.

During eleven months, a group of gay men and transexual women took daily doses of doxycycline as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which means that the purpose of this daily take wasn’t to cure any infection, but to prevent new ones. Meanwhile, the other group didn’t take the pills, but instead was offered with a money incentive should they not catch any STI.

While this PrEP study into STIs was a pilot, which means that its results are not conclusive, three times more people caught syphillis in the non-antibiotic group than in the antibiotic group. These results could take to further research the power of doxycyline to prevent STIs.

What is doxycyline?

Doxycyline is an antibiotic from the tetracycline grop, to which other drugs like minocycline and demeclocycline belong. It kills a wide spectrum of bacteria, so it’s prescribed for infections as different as periodontitis and intestinal infections. Doxycycline is also effective against some STIs such as syphillis, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Sometimes, this drug is used as a second option for people who are allergic to penicilin.

Although this antibiotic has been proved to succeed in the treatment of different infections, you should never take it without asking your doctor. It is crucial to get doxycycline information and medical advisce, because this drug has some contraindications. Also, depending on the brand, it could cause digestive discomfort. With appropriate medical control, and if you follow your doctor’s prescription, you will more than likely get rid of your infection with little to no side effects.

The battle against STIs continues

Even if the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases has increased, our capacity to detect and treat them has raised as well. The National Health Service provides free screenings for STIs as well as plenty of information and anonymous appointments for the entire population, so anyone can get infomed on these diseases and how to prevent them. Hopefully, education and concientization will help tackle sexually transmitted infections.

It has become easier to get further information on gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV, syphillis, and many other infections, the first two of them being the most common cases of STIs in the United Kingdom. Luckily for everybody, they have free screenings at the NHS facilities as well as a test for Gonorrhea online that can be accessed from any home and is 100% anonymous, with no attendance required.

Our busy lives and an overall sense of shame around sexual liberties and STIs prevents lots of people from getting STIs screenings. On top of that, some of these infections can be asymptomatic, which means that you could experience no signs of having the disease at all. This is why you should get STI testings periodically, if you are sexually active. If left untreated, some of these infections could spread and cause other diseases, infertility, or even death.

Online screenings are a good choice for people who feel uncomfortable and/or don’t have the time to go get a screening. The test materials arrive quite quickly to your home via mail, and you can return them through the same medium, meaning that you never need to leave your house. Moreover, if the screening comes back possitive, many online clinics will send you the medication via overnight courrier. Remember the above paragraphs, above asking your doctor before taking any antibiotics to prevent bad reactions, side effects and interactions.

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