Antibiotic resistance has made gonorrhea infections much harder to treat, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in a July press release, citing new research with data from 77 countries. “The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them,” said Dr. Teodora Wi, Medical Officer, Human Reproduction, at WHO. Right now, there is only one remaining group of antibiotics that can effectively treat gonorrhea, and resistance to these has been reported in many countries. As the WHO release makes clear, there is an urgent need for new drugs to be developed.
In the United States, gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection, with about 820,000 new infections each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 246,000 of these are resistant to at least one antibiotic. CDC calls drug-resistant gonorrhea an “urgent threat” and is continuing to monitor antibiotic resistant infections and look for solutions. But prevention is also key—using condoms consistently and correctly can help prevent infection with gonorrhea and other STIs.