The World Health Organization announced today that gonorrhea may soon become untreatable.
If this sounds familiar that is because the WHO was originally concerned that this might become the reality but now it appears that this is definitely true.
According to new guidelines recently released from the United Nations health agency it is necessary to reexamine the present treatments for three common sexually transmitted infections: syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Furthermore, they detail this effort is crucial as antibiotic resistance becomes more and more prevalent.
World Health Organization Director of Reproductive health and Research, Ian Askew comments, “Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are major public health problems worldwide, affecting millions of peoples’ quality of life, causing serious illness and sometimes death.”
Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea, are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that are caused by bacterial growth. This bacterial growth, of course, can be treated with standard antibiotics. Unfortunately, the WHO says, STIs like these often go undiagnosed and, accordingly, are becoming more and more difficult to treat. In fact, some antibiotics are now failing to treat these infections as the result of misuse and overuse.
He goes on to say, “The new WHO guidelines reinforce the need to treat these STIs with the right antibiotic, at the right dose, and the right time to reduce their spread and improve sexual and reproductive health. To do that, national health services need to monitor the patterns of antibiotic resistance in these infections within their countries.”
The WHO estimates that 131 million people become infected with chlamydia every year. This is followed by 78 million people who have gonorrhea, and 5.6 million with syphilis.
You may be aware that a new class of antibiotics is currently under development. Unfortunately, while these may be effective against some of the more stubborn strains of bacteria, it is not going to fix the overall problem; bacteria continues to evolve, and quickly.
Most importantly, the WHO notes that while all three of these most common sexual transmitted infections affect men and women, they can have a more dire effect on women, especially if not treated. For example, gonorrhea infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease as well as risky ectopic pregnancies; syphilis can be inherited by a child if an infected woman carries her fetus to full term.