Jun 7, 2024 - Health

Atlanta spearheading STI "morning-after" pill use

Illustration of a pill with a clock face on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fulton County has the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections in Georgia, which is also among the top five states for STIs, so the CDC is advising use of an antibiotic "morning-after" pill to stop infections.

Driving the news: CDC director Mandy Cohen visited Grady's Ponce De Leon Center this week to discuss doxycycline post-exposure prophylaxis (Doxy PEP).

  • Her visit was timed with the CDC's release of new guidance on the drug, which the clinic has offered since last year.

How it works: Doxy PEP is prescription medication that needs to be taken within 72 hours of having sex to reduce the risk of getting syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhea.

  • People can visit their health care provider or a sexual health clinic for a prescription to access the pill.
  • Cohen said the pill is most beneficial for people who have had an STI in the last year, men who have sex with men, and transgender women.

What they're saying: Trials showed the pill worked better against syphilis and chlamydia than gonorrhea, per Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

  • Mermin said gonorrhea has some resistance to doxycycline, but it's still effective against the STI.

Caveat: Mermin said one trial among cisgender women showed the pill wasn't effective. However, he also said there were trial issues that "seemed to indicate" many of the participants didn't take the pill.

What's next: Mermin said his agency is looking into the possibility of conducting another study among cisgender women.

  • He also said they're studying to see if Doxy PEP will create "some potential negative effects," like antimicrobial resistance.
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