More reasons to take care to prevent STDs

Some STDs like gonorrhea are getting harder to treat. Normally when someone gets gonorrhea, they can go to a health care provider and get tested and treated with antibiotics. Getting treated is important because untreated gonorrhea can cause infertility in women and men. However, we are finding that gonorrhea doesn’t respond as well to available antibiotics as it used to. Gonorrhea’s increasing antibiotic resistance does not come as much of a surprise; the bacterium has always been good at adapting to new medications. But in the past we always had a new kind of antibiotic in the pipeline. That is no longer true. So now we need to work especially hard to prevent and test for STDs like gonorrhea from happening in the first place so we can catch resistant strains quickly and they are not spread to others.

The rise of drug resistant gonorrhea also will contribute to HIV prevention. Mounting evidence suggests a link between untreated gonorrhea and Chlamydia and the likelihood that someone will contract HIV. Having either gonorrhea or Chlamydia can increase the chance that someone will either contract HIV or spread it to a sexual partner. Individuals who are infected with STDs may be two to five times more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV infection.

It can be unnerving thinking about drug resistant gonorrhea and the possibility of new HIV cases – but remember that you have the power to prevent these STD by reducing our risk behaviors, such as by using condoms and reducing our number of partners. We can also make sure we know our STD and HIV status. For help with prevention, testing and treatment, put your zip code in our health center finder to find an affordable, close by location. Good sexual health is the responsibility of each of us.

Thanks to the National Coalition of STD Directors for this content