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The Naked Truth The Sexual Health Blog

Gonorrhea’s Fighting Back: An STDs Increasing Resistance to Our Last Defense

February 14th, 2012 by Brent Reily, Staff Writer

1,700 percent is the rate at which gonorrhea has grown in antibiotic resistance since 2006. With 1.7 percent of gonorrhea strains considered untreatable with traditional therapies in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns, “It is time to sound the alarm.”

Drug resistance is a common evolutionary mechanism seen occurring in all bacteria. When one therapy no longer treats or cures an infection, a stronger antibiotic agent simply replaces it until no medical therapy is strong enough. Gonorrhea is almost past that tipping point. Currently, gonorrhea is treated using an antibiotic regimen consisting of Cefixime or Ceftriaxone and Azithromyocin; Yet, gonococcal strains are growing increasingly resistant to Cefixime, and fast. The issue at hand, the CDC explains, is that the aforementioned therapy is the last line of defense. Gonorrhea has a history of resistance to sulfanilamide in the 1940s, to penicillins and tetracyclines in the 1980s, to fluoroquinolones by 2007, and now, increasingly to Cephalosporins.

So who’s most at risk and what can be done to prevent and/or treat gonorrhea?

High-risk groups include men who have sex with men (MSM), and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), MSM’s on the West Coast or in Hawaii are especially at high risk. However, any sexually active individual is at risk of contracting gonorrhea. Thus, some of the most effective tools for prevention are…

Partner notification, for those infected by gonorrhea or any other STD, helps slow the spread of the resistant strains. If infected, seek treatment immediately and postpone sexual activity. In the event you are experiencing any symptoms of gonorrhea, do not engage in sexual activity and schedule a test with a Care Advisor (855.SEX.HEALTH) or visit www.SexualHealth.Com. Naturally, the best tool for prevention of STD infection is the practice of…

Safer sex is using latex condoms when engaging in vaginal, anal or oral sex and dental dams or condoms when engaging in oral sex. Through communication with your sexual partner(s) and the practice of safer sex, your chances of contracting gonorrhea are significantly lower. As engaging in sexual activity always carries a risk, that risk can be lowered by simply lowering the number of partners you have over time.

Testing, treatment, and retesting are important for high-risk groups to ensure the gonorrhea strain has not resisted treatment. It is recommended that a test of cure with a culture or a nucleic acid-amplification test be performed one week after treatment. In MSM’s where higher rates of treatment failure have been observed, the CDC recommends retesting in three months to rule out reinfection (a subsequent exposure to gonorrhea). The CDC  also recommends that strains that have been retested positive are treated with dual therapy in which a combination of Cephalosporin Cefixime, Azithromyocin, and a shot of ceftriaxone (Rocephin) are used.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact a Care Advisor at 855.SEX.HEALTH today.

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