By Rob Harding
Content warning – STIs
A quick reminder/PSA to the sex-having and potential-future-sex-having community: use protection, folks. The World Health Organisation released a factsheet last week describing the rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae worldwide, with resistance to third-generation drugs reported in multiple countries including Japan and Norway.
According to the BBC, who, judging by the header image, don’t appear to know what oral sex is, around 78 million people worldwide pick up the usually curable disease, which comes in genital, anal and oral varieties with sub-types that can infect the cervix, urethra and eyes. A particular problem during oral sex is antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the throat, created through antibiotic treatment of sore throats and lesser illnesses, coming into contact with the gonorrhoea bacteria, causing them to merge and develop drug-resistant strains.
The drug resistant disease can cause painful inflammation and sterility. This most recent WHO report details failures of the so-called ‘Drugs of last resort’ in several countries including China and the UK, with worries of further failures in places where recording is not so stringent.
Part of the problem is a general decline in condom use and safe sex practices, which has developed with the reduced profile of HIV over the past couple of decades. Another is the over-use of antibiotics and incomplete antibiotic courses.
While the fight against drug-resistant gonorrhoea will have to be won on a technological level, there are personal things you can do to limit the effects of gonorrhoea
While the fight against drug-resistant gonorrhoea will have to be won on a technological level, there are personal things you can do to limit the effects of gonorrhoea on yourself and others. Try to be a good citizen, and avoid inflicting your friends, lovers and fuckbuddies with possibly incurable STIs.
1) Try to avoid antibiotic cures for minor illnesses, if you can live without them. Obviously, if your doctor insists, take the stuff, and make sure you finish the course, but bear in mind that your quick sore throat cure could be breeding resistant strains. I say this because I’ve been given two sets of antibiotics of differing strengths to treat an unpleasant, but not brutal, sore throat, because ‘I’m going on holiday to France this weekend and I want to be able to party, can you give me something that’ll kill this quicker?’ (That’s white posh guy privilege in action, folks!).
2) Protection. Use it. This one is less easy than it sounds, obviously. It is entirely possible (and understandable) to be too drunk/high/depressed/head-over-heels in love to remember to put a condom on, and dental dams are a right pain the fundament to use and no mistake. If you’re on the pill (or not having the kind of sex that results in children) it’s even easier to hand-wave it and skip protection. And, of course, you trust your long-term monogamous partner, right? Right?
See here for a whole shitload of sexual health resources from the NHS, here for a trans men’s health guide, here for a lesbian sexual health guide, and Google for a guide that fits you if you aren’t represented here. The information is out there. Use it, or you don’t get to complain if your bits rot off.
3) Get tested. Go to a clinic regularly. It’s a pain, sure, but as previously emphasised the alternative is untreatable genital-eating bacterial infections, so…
Use this tool to find your nearest STI testing and treatment services.
At the end of the day, an untreatable gonorrhea pandemic won’t be the end of the world. There’s technically worse out there. At the same time, however, you can make sure it doesn’t happen to you or your partners. Wrap up, no matter what kind of sex you’re having.
Featured image credit: Pixnio science
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