CDC Recommends Doxycycline for Post-Sexual Exposure STI Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines recommending the use of doxycycline, a common antibiotic, within 72 hours after unprotected sexual activity to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

New Recommendations for STI Prevention

The CDC advises healthcare professionals to counsel individuals, particularly those in the LGBTQIA+ community, who have had at least one case of syphilis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea within the past year. Known as the doxy PEP regimen, this involves taking a 200-milligram dose of doxycycline within 72 hours after oral, vaginal, or anal sex without a barrier method.

Efficacy of Doxycycline for STI Prevention

Doxycycline, an antibiotic used for postexposure prophylaxis, is effective against multiple STIs. Dr. Jason Zucker, an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University, highlights that doxycycline can significantly reduce the risk of contracting syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia when taken promptly after exposure.

Research indicates that doxy PEP reduces the risk of gonorrhea by 55% and chlamydia and syphilis by 88% and 87%, respectively. This evidence-based intervention is seen as a crucial measure to counteract rising STI rates and improve sexual health.

Benefits and Potential Side Effects

Doxycycline is generally well-tolerated, but users should be aware of potential side effects. These include stomach discomfort, photosensitivity, and the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Dr. Jon McGarry notes that allergic reactions, although rare, can occur.

Who Should Consider Doxy PEP?

With increasing STI rates, new prevention strategies are essential. Dr. Tessa Madden from Yale School of Medicine emphasizes the need for individuals at higher risk, particularly within the LGBTQIA+ community, to discuss doxycycline use with their healthcare providers.


The CDC’s new guidelines on doxycycline postexposure prophylaxis mark a significant step in STI prevention. Healthcare professionals are encouraged to educate high-risk groups about this preventative measure to help curb the spread of STIs, especially within vulnerable communities.

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