For almost a century gonorrhea has been viewed as a troublesome, but treatable, sexually transmitted disease. Not anymore thanks to evolution of the bacteria, a new antibiotic-resistant strain is emerging. What’s scary about this isn’t just the effects of gonorrhea (which can be horrible in themselves) but those infected with gonorrhea are much more susceptible to the HIV virus.
According to a New Yorker article, the strain most resistance to all antibiotic treatments is found mostly in Japan and can be spread through fellatio. The bacteria is destroyed by human saliva, but can easily hang out in the back of the throat and spread whenever unprotected oral sex is performed. The most disturbing part of all of this is the fact that most people view oral sex as a “safe” sex alternative, and almost never use condoms.
Despite the havoc gonorrhea can wreck on the human reproductive system (infertility, pus, damage to urethra, cervix, eye infections and blindness in babies delivered to moms with the disease) the human immune system can eventually clear up gonorrhea on it’s own. Even so, we don’t seem to build up antibodies to fight against another infection, so many people who get gonorrhea have problems with getting multiple infections, and these infections can “mingle” together.
From The New Yorker:
“The microbe also grows robustly in the pharynx, at the back of the throat. With hairlike structures that extend from the cell surface, it scavenges DNA that has been cast loose by the death or dissolution of other microbes, and incorporates them into its own genome. This turns out to be a highly efficient way of acquiring resistance to antibiotics. Multiplying in the pharynx, the gonococcus regularly encounters infectious microbes; these include other strains of antibiotics-resistant gonorrhea and unrelated microbes that have accumulated mutations to withstand antibiotics of the kind taken indiscriminately for sore throats and other ailments.”
Also, as mentioned above, those infected with Gonorrhea have a must high risk of contracting HIV when exposed to it than people who are Gonorrhea-free. Right now there are no reports of the drug-resistant gonorrhea in the U.S., but rates are rising steadily in Japan, Europe, and Australi, it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a wide-spread public health issue in the states. Each year 106 million people get gonorrhea, with 700,000 cases happening in the U.S.
The bottom line? ALWAYS wear a condom, even if it’s oral sex.