LOS ANGELES (January 7, 2016) — A drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea first discovered in the United Kingdom last spring could potentially threaten public health in the U.S. and other countries according to recent warnings by Britain’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, and Dr. Sachin Jain, medical director of HIV prevention programs at Montefiore AIDS Center in Bronx, New York. As reported by CBS News on December 28th, Dame Davies and Britain’s chief pharmaceutical officer Dr. Keith Ridge sent a letter to the country’s physicians and pharmacists alerting of a “super-gonorrhea” and the need for health professionals to consistently prescribe both antibiotics—injectable ceftriaxone and azithromycin—used to properly threat the sexually transmitted infection. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called gonorrhea an “urgent threat” and reported in 2013 that about one-third of all gonorrhea cases were resistant to at least one antibiotic. The CDC estimates that more than 800,000 cases of gonorrhea occur annually in the United States.
“This warning from Britain’s top doctor and pharmaceutical officer about drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea underscores the importance of medical providers all over the world having the knowledge and access to the medications recommended by health agencies to treat sexually transmitted diseases,” said Dr. Parveen Kaur, Director of AHF’s Infection Prevention and Control Committee. “The threat of these drug-resistant strains is getting worse. If the last recommended treatment stops working, countries could face dire health problems that recall other bacterial diseases of public importance. We cannot let this happen and must continually stress to medical providers and infected patients the necessity of completing all the required doses of antibiotic treatment to prevent the development of drug-resistant bacteria. In fact, to maximize adherence, on-site and directly observed treatment is highly encouraged, as is the prevention of reinfection with expedited partner therapy.”
“According to the CDC, gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States and the majority of these infections are among young people ages 15-24 years,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AHF. “This is also the age group that is most likely to use mobile dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr to meet new sexual partners. As one increases their number of sexual partners, the risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease also increases. It’s imperative that we continue to warn sexually active young people about the risks of dating apps and keep driving home the message that practicing safer sex through consistent condom usage helps prevent STDs.”
AHF’s Wellness Centers provide free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. To find the nearest location for STD screening and treatment, visit www.freestdcheck.org