April 13, 2023 | 7:12 p.m

Researchers say an inexpensive antibiotic could help slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.

Dr. Leandro Mena, director of the agency’s Division of STD Prevention, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is formulating recommendations for the consumption of doxycycline — which is used to treat bacterial infections and prevent malaria — to ward off STDs.

The reimagining of the drug — which will be taken like a pill — comes as the CDC reports that more than 2.5 million people will be diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2021.

“STIs are an enormous, low-priority public health problem,” said Dr. John M. Douglas Jr., a retired health official who lectures at the Colorado School of Public Health.

“It has been a low priority problem for decades, despite the fact that it is the most commonly reported type of infectious disease.”

The effectiveness of doxycycline is the focus of a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Scientists in San Francisco and Seattle found that taking a 200-milligram pill of doxycycline within three days of unprotected sex reduced sexually transmitted bacterial infections, particularly gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, by two-thirds every three months.

The one-year study followed 500 gay men, bisexual men, and transgender people with previous STD infections.

The researchers note that there are limitations to the drug, such as that it is not effective in heterosexual women and can cause side effects such as stomach problems, sun sensitivity, and skin rashes.

Dr. Philip Andrew Chan, who consults with the CDC on doxycycline recommendations, noted that the drug wouldn’t be a “magic bullet,” calling it “another tool” in fighting the STD epidemic.

“We need new approaches and new innovations” to tackle the pervasive problem, he said.

The Post has reached out to the CDC for comment.

Researchers hope that doxycycline, a commonly used antibiotic, will be effective in targeting sexually transmitted infections.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

In the meantime, the researchers are touting the results of their study for doxycycline post-exposure prophylaxis (Doxy-PEP).

“Doxy-PEP is a promising strategy for reducing sexually transmitted infections in populations that are disproportionately affected by high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, specifically men who have sex with men and transgender women who have recently had an STD,” Dr. Connie Silom, professor of global health, medicine and epidemiology at the University of Washington, said in a statement.

“It will be important to monitor the effect of doxy-PEP on antibiotic resistance over time and weigh this against the proven benefit of reducing STIs.”

The findings could be good news for New Yorkers, as new data from the New York City Department of Health shows that STDs have skyrocketed across the city after COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were lifted.

The agency’s statistics show that chlamydia cases increased by 10% between 2020 and 2021, for example, while the rate of women infected with primary and secondary syphilis increased by 28.7%.

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