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Should we be concerned about the new strain of gonorrhea?

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

No one wants to contract any sexually transmitted diseases, since most of them can seriously impact a person's life if left untreated. This is why everyone needs to utilize STD testing services to make sure that they do not have one. While all STDs are dangerous, some are worse than others. For example, HIV can claim a person's life in a few years if not treated, and there has also been talk in the healthcare community in the past year about a super-strain of gonorrhea that is not responding to antibiotics.

Recently, the Boston Globe published an article discussing this strain - what people need to know about it, and what to do to keep from contracting it.

Closer than you think
According to the news source, it's possible that the strain - known as Ho41 - could be in Boston in as soon as one or two years.

"It's been on our radar screen for many years," Al DeMaria, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, told the Boston Globe. "Gonorrhea has developed a resistance to every antibiotic we've used against it from penicillin to tetracycline to azithromycin, one after another."

He explained that while this strain of gonorrhea is not quite as dangerous as HIV, if left untreated, it can still lead to infertilitiy, and could potentially be deadly. The Globe stated that, in Massachussets alone, 2,300 people are disgnosed with this STD each year, which is why it's so important for people in the state to utilize STD testing.

The only antibiotic currently treating this strain of gonorrhea successfully is called ceftriaxone. However, it has been reported that there have been infections in Japan, France and Spain that did not respond to this medication.

Currently, an incurable gonorrhea infection hasn't been diagnosed in the U.S. However, that doesn't mean that it won't make its way to the U.S. sometime in the near future.

Reason to be concerned
The Boston Globe stated that an April report from the Infectious Disease Society of America found that drug companies do not seem to be creating new antibiotics at a rate fast enough to handle gonorrhea and other drug-resistant bacterial infections. There have only been two new antibiotics since 2009.

However, Congress has passed new legislation that would offer companies incentives to develop new antibiotics.

Tips to avoid gonorrhea
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that while any sexually active individual can get gonorrhea, the highest rates of infection in the U.S. are present in teens, young adults and African Americans. This is why these demographics and all sexually active individuals need to practice safer sex, limit the number of partners they have and use STD testing services often.

Some men and most women who contract gonorrhea do not have any symptoms, which is why people should not wait to get tested until symptoms occur. But rather should do so often just to be sure that they are healthy. The same is true for most STDs, which often do not have any symtoms present until they are in the advance stages

However, symptoms that people may experience include a burning sensation or abnormal discharge from the genitals.

The CDC explains that untreated gonorrhea can spread to the blood or the joints, which how is it can potentially become life-threatening.

Of course, getting tested for STDs should be something that is private. Luckily, there are ways to get lab tests to check for these infections that are completely confidential and do not even require people to visit their local doctor.

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