Since the prevalence of PrEP, scientists have noted an increase in sexually transmitted infections other than HIV among gay/bi men in the U.S. The conventional wisdom is that men who have sex with men are forgoing condoms, opening the door to other diseases like Chlamydia and gonorrhea.
But a new study suggests that using PrEP correctly can actually reduce STIs by up to 40 percent.
It’s not that the medication attacks other infections, but that the regular screenings required for proper PrEP usage would catch other STIs, as well. Treated quickly, those infections wouldn’t spread to other men, and the overall rates of infection would decline.
Currently, those on PrEP are required to get screened for STIs every six months. The findings, announced by the CDC and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, found that was frequent enough to make significant inroads on STIs. (They also stated that increasing screenings to four times a year would not dramatically affect prevention.)
Study author Dr. Samuel Jenness says the key is making sure guidelines are adhered to across the board.
“Right now, there’s a tremendous amount of [diversity] in terms of how the STI testing is being performed by these clinicians” says Jenness. “As PrEP has been implemented in smaller practice groups or by individual clinicians outside of large metropolitan areas, we have some suggestions that the guidelines aren’t being adhered to with respect to STI testing as much.”