Common Stds Becoming Untreatable: How Worried Should We Be
In United States, drug-resistant gonorrhea is a public health problem of national concern. But untreatable gonorrhea isnt the only STD that has health officials worried.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization released new treatment guidelines for three common sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in response to increasing antibiotic resistance.
Gonorrhea has developed the strongest resistance to drugs, but the worries about untreatable syphilis and chlamydia come at a time when rates for the three STDs are rising rapidly in the U.S, especially among young people ages 20 to 24. According to data published by the CDC in 2014, the most recent year available: cases of chlamydia have increased 2.5 percent gonorrhea 5.1 percent and syphilis 15.1 percent. This is the first increase in the United States since 2006.
How worried should we be?
STDs are hidden epidemics of enormous health and economic consequence in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the US, STDs are most frequent among college-age women, the highest prevalence being among women, ages 20 to 24.
According to the CDC, there are about 820,000 new gonorrhea infections each year in the United States. In fact, gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported infectious disease, after chlamydia.
How do the superbugs spread through STDs?
Who Is At Risk And How Can They Prevent It
Any person who is sexually active has a risk of STIs. A person can transmit or contract STIs through oral, anal, or vaginal sexual intercourse.
To prevent contracting either of these infections, a person should use barrier methods, such as condoms, and get tested regularly.
Even when they do not cause any symptoms, these infections can cause complications.
If a person does not seek treatment for gonorrhea, for example, there may be a of contracting HIV. They may also contract disseminated gonococcal infections.
How Common Is Chlamydia And Gonorrhea
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of approximately 1.76 million new cases of chlamydia. However, as some people do not know symptoms, its estimated that the actual number of new annual cases is closer to 2.86 million. Gonorrhea isnt quite as common, with the CDC estimating there are approximately 820,000 new infections in the United States every year.
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How Gonorrhoea Is Spread
The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea are mainly found in discharge from the penis and in vaginal fluid.
Gonorrhoea is easily passed between people through:
- unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex
- sharing vibrators or other sex toys that have not been washed or covered with a new condom each time they’re used
The bacteria can infect the entrance to the womb , the tube that passes urine out of the body , the rectum and, less commonly, the throat or eyes.
The infection can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby. If you’re pregnant and may have gonorrhoea, it’s important to get tested and treated before your baby is born.
Without treatment, gonorrhoea can cause permanent blindness in a newborn baby.
Gonorrhoea is not spread by kissing, hugging, swimming pools, toilet seats or sharing baths, towels, cups, plates or cutlery. The bacteria cannot survive outside the human body for long.
Why Is Gonorrhea Treated With Two Antibiotics
In 2010, after some strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium responsible for gonorrhea, began showing resistance to one of the last remaining classes of antibiotics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending dual therapy, meaning that doctors now prescribe two drugs at the same time to
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How To Get Tested
A person can meet with a doctor to get a diagnosis for either of these infections.
The doctor will collect bodily fluids to test for the infection. The test can use either a urine sample or a sample from the vagina or penis, which a doctor will collect with a cotton swab.
Most health insurance plans, including Medicare, cover sexually transmitted infection testing completely. If a person does not have health insurance, they can go to a free clinic, their local health departments STI clinic, a student health center, or an urgent care clinic.
Because both chlamydia and gonorrhea can present with no symptoms, it is important that people who are sexually active get tested regularly.
After a doctor has determined which infection a person has contracted, they will prescribe an antibiotic.
People should take the full course of antibiotics and wait an additional 7 days before having sex again. This helps prevent a person from spreading the infection to another person and possibly reinfecting themselves later.
A person can contract both chlamydia and gonorrhea again, even if they have already experienced and treated the STI before.
How Can You Test For Gonorrhea And Chlamydia At Home
You dont need to visit a lab, clinic, or doctors office to test for STDs. You can take this test in the comfort of your own home thanks to myLAB Box. Simply follow these steps:
- Order your STD panel kit online on the myLAB box website. Dont worry, we even include free shipping! We offer discreet shipping, which means your neighbors wont know you are receiving an STD test in the mail.
- Test yourself at any time and from any place using the easy-to-follow instructions. Your testing kit will include everything you need to complete the test. This part only takes five minutes!
- Send your samples back to the lab with the pre-paid return envelope that comes with your kit.
- Get results online in a matter of days. Results are typically sent within 2-5 days. Once you receive our email, you can log into a secure portal for your private results.
- If you test positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia, you have the option of scheduling a phone consultation with a medical professional to discuss your results. The physician will answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you understand what steps you need to take next.
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Treatments For Gonorrhea And Chlamydia
Since both STDs are caused by a bacterial infection, the treatment is a regimen of oral antibiotics.
Some strains of gonorrhea in the US have become antibiotic resistant, sometimes called super gonorrhea. Therefore, a medical physician will decide on the best course of antibiotics.
The most commonly recommended antibiotics for both chlamydia and gonorrhea are:
The infection should clear after one to two weeks.
You should never stop taking antibiotics until the recommended course is finished, even if you think the infection cleared or you are feeling better.
If you do not finish the antibiotics, the infection can come back and be resistant to the antibiotics you were taking.
Additionally, since antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are already more common, if your symptoms continue after a few days of taking antibiotics, consult your doctor. They may switch you to a different strain of antibiotics.
Some people report home remedies for chlamydia and gonorrhea easing their symptoms, but the only effective treatment for both STDs are antibiotics.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are curable by taking the appropriate medication as directed however, repeat infections are common.
You and your sexual partner should always be tested after three months of completing treatment, especially if you are unsure whether your partner received treatment.
Which Stds Are Causing The Most Concern
Gonorrhea is far and away the most pressing concern. Currently, thereâs only one CDC-recommended treatment for it: a combination of two powerful antibiotics, azithromycin and ceftriaxone.
Syphilis and chlamydia have also begun to show resistance to antibiotics in some parts of the world, though Klausner says there are several treatment options for both.
STDs, which donât always have symptoms, can cause serious complications if left untreated:
- Gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease , which causes inflammation of the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and the uterus, which can ultimately lead to infertility. In men, it can cause infection of the testes and sterility. In rare cases, gonorrhea can spread to your blood or joints, which can be life-threatening. Untreated gonorrhea may increase your risk of HIV.
- Chlamydia can also cause PID in women, which may result in permanent damage. Though men seldom have long-term complications from untreated chlamydia, it can lead to sterility in rare cases.
- Syphilis, in its early stages, can cause chancre sores, rashes, fever, swollen lymph glands, and other symptoms. If left untreated for years, it can eventually damage the brain, heart, liver, and other organs, causing paralysis, numbness, blindness, dementia, and death.
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What Is Antibiotic Resistance And How Does It Develop
Antibiotics have been widely used to fight infections, including sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, for more than 75 years. However, the bacteria that cause STDs have fought back. Over time, they have adapted so that a growing number of antibiotics can no longer treat them.
Each year, according to the CDC, at least 2 million people in the U.S. pick up these difficult-to-treat infections, which include a growing number of gonorrhea cases that are resistant to antibiotics.
They develop resistance in two ways, says Jeffrey Klausner, MD, a professor of preventive medicine at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine who has specialized in the research of sexually transmitted diseases.
âThe organism changes its surface so that the antibiotic no longer recognizes it, or it starts to produce new enzymes that break down the antibiotic,â Klausner says. Gonorrhea, he says, has long been known as a bacteria that learns to evade antibiotics.
Home Remedies For Chlamydia Symptoms
You may still experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms while youre taking chlamydia antibiotics.
Here are some home remedies for reducing your pain and other symptoms while youre waiting for the antibiotics to work:
- pain medications, such as ibuprofen to reduce pain
- cold pack to help limit swelling and inflammation
- goldenseal to reduce inflammation and potentially make symptoms less severe
- echinacea to bolster your immune system against the infection and reduce your symptoms
- turmeric containing an ingredient called curcumin to reduce inflammation and make symptoms less severe
No studies support the effectiveness of these supplements specifically for chlamydia, so take them with caution.
And theres no substitute for antibiotics when treating chlamydia. Only try these remedies if youre already taking antibiotics or if you plan to go to the doctor.
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How Common Are These Stds In General How Common Are The Antibiotic
The CDC estimates there are 820,000 cases of gonorrhea in the United States each year. Klausner says that less than 1% fail to respond to the currently recommended treatment. However, he says, resistance to older, less expensive antibiotics is much higher.
Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States, with nearly 3 million cases occurring annually. So far, no treatment-resistant cases have been reported.
In 2019, nearly 130,000 cases of syphilis were reported in the U.S., with the most infectious types increasing 11% from 2018 to 2019, according to CDC statistics.
The numbers for these three STDs, which are the most common, are at a record high, according to the CDC.
âWeâre absolutely seeing an increase in overall rates of STDs, particularly in younger patients,â says Englund. âHalf of cases are diagnosed in patients aged 15 to 24.â
Does Amoxicillin Treat Std Infections Such As Gonorrhea
Now its time to discuss how to treat STDs with amoxicillin. Each STD is unique, so the treatment options will vary depending on the type of STD you have.
On the whole, gonorrhea tends to be treatable with common drugs such as penicillin, ampicillin, tetracycline and doxycycline. With several doses of amoxicillin or a similar drug, gonorrhea can be cured in a few days.
Antibiotics such as amoxicillin have been prescribed by doctors to treat gonorrhea in the past. Of course, even though Amoxicillin is one of the most well-known drugs, that doesnt mean that it is the primary drug of choice for treatment of gonorrhea. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that uncomplicated gonorrhea be treated only with the antibiotic ceftriaxone given as an injection in combination with either azithromycin or doxycycline two antibiotics that are taken orally.
According to the CDC, this combination of prescription medications will successfully treat gonorrhea, but it will not repair permanent damage caused by this STD. For this reason, its important to seek medical treatment right away to ensure you can get rid of this infection before it causes permanent damage.
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How Many 500mg Amoxicillin Should I Take For Gonorrhea
What is the dosage for amoxicillin? For most infections in adults the dose of amoxicillin is 250 mg every 8 hours, 500 mg every 8 hours, 500 mg every 12 hours or 875 mg every 12 hours, depending on the type and severity of infection. For the treatment of adults with gonorrhea, the dose is 3 g given as one dose.
Who New Treatment Guidelines For Gonorrhea Chlamydia And Syphilis
The World Health Organization on 30th Aug released new therapy guidelines for 3 sexually transmitted infections , stating the updates respond to an urgent need in light of improving antimicrobial resistance.
Ian Askew, director of reproductive health and research at WHO said,
Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are main public health issues globally, impacting large numbers of peoples quality lifestyle, causing severe illness and often death. The new WHO guidelines strengthen the need to treat these STIs with the appropriate antibiotic, at the appropriate dose, and the right time to decrease their spread and enhance sexual and reproductive health.
With respect to WHO, the 3 bacteria cause over 200 million infections every year, and increasing resistance has made them more complicated or impossible to treat with current antibiotics. Of the 3 infections, WHO states that, gonorrhea is the very challenging to treat, with some strains now resistant to all accessible antibiotics.
When drawing the guidelines, WHO states it looked for therapies that provided high efficacy and quality while paying attention to cost, toxicity, route of administration, along with the likelihood for resistance to the therapies developing.
Furthermore to revamping its therapy recommendations, WHO says that individual health systems should boost surveillance for the infections, and urges nations to quickly follow the new guidelines.
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Why Is This Test Done
These tests may be done to:
- Find out if symptoms are caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia.
- Check people who are at high risk of being infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia.
- Retest people several months after they have been treated for gonorrhea or chlamydia.
- Check for infection in your newborn if you had a gonorrhea or chlamydia infection at the time of delivery.
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Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing
Several different tests are used to detect HIV, including lab testing, the rapid antibody screening test, the rapid antigen/antibody test and a self-test that uses oral fluid.
Lab testing requires blood to be drawn from your vein. Your blood is then analyzed in a lab to detect either the genetic material of the virus, or specific HIV antigens and antibodies.
It usually takes several days to receive the results from an HIV lab test.
If youre tested for HIV with a rapid antibody screening test, or with a rapid antigen/antibody test, your results will typically be ready in under 30 minutes.
If you test yourself for HIV using an oral fluid antibody self-test such as the OraQuickÂ® In-Home HIV Test, youll receive results within 20 minutes.
Right now, there are no tests that can accurately detect HIV immediately after infection. If youre worried that you may have been exposed to HIV, its important to seek medical help immediately and, if possible, use post-exposure prophylaxis .
In order to undergo testing for HIV, youll need to wait for the window period to pass.
The window period varies depending on the type of HIV test:
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How To Treat Gonorrhea And Chlamydia At Home: Get Tested
Taking antibiotics is the only way to treat gonorrhea and chlamydia, and these antibiotics must be prescribed by a physician. This means you cannot treat these STDs at home. But there is something you can do at home: get tested. The results of this at-home test will determine whether or not you need to contact a medical professional to discuss treatment options.
How Is The Test Used
Chlamydia testing is used to screen for and diagnose sexually transmitted infections caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis.
Testing for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae is often done at the same time since the infections caused by these two bacteria can have similar signs and symptoms. These bacteria may be acquired at the same time, and you may have infections with both. A definitive diagnosis is important since the two infections require different antibiotic treatment.
Repeat testing is recommended to ensure that treatment has been effective. This is done about three months after you have completed treatment.
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How Long Does A Chlamydia Test Take
Once the samples have been collected, they are sent to a lab for testing. The time it takes to process the sample can vary. If youÃ¢re getting tested via your healthcare providerÃ¢s office, you can generally expect to get results within 7 to 10 days after the sample collection.
On the other hand, if you are using the Everlywell at-home chlamydia test, youÃ¢ll receive secure, online results just a few days after the lab receives your sample.
Most experts suggest that it can take up to 14 days following initial exposure with an infected sex partner for the infection to show any symptoms. For this reason, if your sex partner has recently tested positive but you receive negative results from your test, you may be advised to repeat the test if it has been less than two weeks since you last had sexual intercourse. This is because the infection may still be in its early stages when it is more difficult to identify.
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