Scary news in Sexually Transmitted Infection-land: Gonorrhea is becoming drug-resistant, meaning it might not have a cure in the near future. And it could be coming for you! But thankfully, you can win this war: With a weapon called “condoms,” which happen to be cheap, readily available, and conveniently, a really good way to combat other STIs, too.
See, gonorrhea was once treatable with lots of different kinds of antibiotics—sulfonilamides, penicillin, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin; you name it. But mostly thanks to people not taking their drugs right (starting but not completing the prescribed dosage), the STI has become resistant to most of those options. Now, the World Health Organization says it’s even becoming resistant to cephalosporin, which was basically the last-resort drug when all those other ones stopped working.
So far, the “ghonorrhea superbug” has only been found in Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; thankfully, there haven’t been any known cases yet in the U.S. But it’s just a matter of time before a few study abroad students who are stupid about safe sex bring back the wonderful souvenir to share with the rest of us, and gonorrhea could quickly become an untreatable STI.
Dr. Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan of the WHO explains that:
…the available data only shows the tip of the iceberg. Without adequate surveillance we won’t know the extent of resistance to gonorrhoea and without research into new antimicrobial agents, there could soon be no effective treatment for patients.
Reading about how Gonorrhea became antibiotic resistant is a little bit like reading a post-apocalyptic super-hero plotline. But the superhero, at least for now, isn’t going to come out of some mad scientist’s lab: It’s going to come out of a drug store or health clinic, where you can get plenty of condoms to protect against gonorrhea (of any sort). [And remember: They don't prevent spread of disease if you don't use them. Gonorrhea can be spread through oral and anal sex, too; if you don't know for certain that your partner is clean, put it on.]