The World Health Organization Is Warning that Gonorrhea May Become Untreatable

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Last Friday, the World Health Organization announced that gonorrhea, a common sexually transimitted disease (STD), is becoming harder to treat due to antibiotic resistance.

The news release from WHO reports that each year, 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea—and factors such as decreased condom use, increased urbanization and travel, inadequeate or failed treatment, and low rates of detecting infection contribute to the increase in gonorrhea cases.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventation, gonorrhea is the "second most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States." Symptoms often include pain during discharge or urination but symptoms can often be absent until the disease develops. 

In the news release, Human Reproduction Medical Officer Dr. Teodora Wi explains the issue, saying, "The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them."

The antibiotics that are usually treated for this common STD are ceftriaxone and azithromycin. According to WHO, doctors now recommended giving both antibiotics to patients. But overprescribing the antibiotics could also make the problem a lot worse. WHO explains that ESCs are the now the only antibiotic that has been reported completely successful in treating gonorrhea. 

Marc Sprenger, Director of Antimicrobial Resistance at WHO, said, “To control gonorrhea, we need new tools and systems for better prevention, treatment, earlier diagnosis, and more complete tracking and reporting of new infections, antibiotic use, resistance and treatment failures."

USA Today reports that the STD can be transmitted through oral, anal and vaginal sex. Gonorrhea can also be passed onto a baby through vaginal delivery, and if the infection goes untreated, it can lead to other inflammatory diseases or even infertility. In an era of "smart" bacteria, it's now more important than ever to remember to be smart with your sex life and use protection to prevent the spread of STDs.

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Dajin Kim is a Junior Advertising major at the University of Texas at Austin who was born and raised in Plano, Texas. In addition to being a feature writer for HerCampus, she enjoys chick flicks, meeting new people, long naps, and bowling. Dajin is a dedicated Dallas Mavericks fan and her favorite artists are the Chainsmokers and Black Bear. You can find her at the trendiest coffee shops in Austin brainstorming for new ideas or studying. By writing for HerCampus, she hopes that her passion for writing will allow her to connect with new people nationwide. Her instagram is @dajinkimm and her twitter is @dajin_kim