The STD That Needs To Be On Your Radar
Well, this is scary: Cases of gonorrhea are on the rise in certain areas of the country, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that’s scheduled to be published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Over the years, gonorrhea has adapted and become resistant to most antibiotic treatments recommended by the CDC. It hasn’t suggested using ciprofloxacin to fight it, for example, since 2007. Current guidelines recommend a combination therapy to treat gonorrhea: the injectable antibiotic ceftriaxone, along with one of two oral antibiotics (azithromycin or doxycycline).
In this study, the CDC analyzed data from the Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project collected between 1991 and 2006 about 17 U.S. cities. Researchers wanted to see if the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea would increase the overall number of gonorrhea cases. In the nine cities with low rates of resistant gonorrhea, the number of gonorrhea cases declined between 2000 and 2006. But in the other eight cities, all of which had high levels of resistant gonorrhea, there was an increase in the number of cases. Alarming stuff.
Granted, this study only identified an association, not causation. But still, what’s happening? It can take a long time for medications to get rid of gonorrhea—so even if someone’s been treated for the STD, they can still spread it if they have unprotected sex before the disease is eradicated, the study authors say.
The biggest concern is that gonorrhea may evolve even more to become resistant to ceftriaxone, which is the strongest medication currently used to treat this STD, according to the CDC. Although the U.S. hasn’t seen any cases of this yet, there have been drug-resistant strains identified in Japan and Europe.
For now, the CDC recommends getting tested for gonorrhea at least once a year and using condoms, regardless of where you live. And if you are infected, get treated immediately and refrain from having unprotected sex until you’ve confirmed that you’re cured.
More from Women’s Health:
7 Surprising STD Facts
Can You Give YOURSELF an STD?
A New Birth Control Method Prevents Pregnancy AND STDs