A number of incurable STDs already exist, but a few more may be added to the list. Three common STDs have gained strength against their previously effective treatments, proving to be even more dangerous.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call STDs “hidden epidemics of enormous health and economic consequence in the United States.” Considering these three STDs are rapidly becoming more common in the U.S., they are on the frightening path of becoming impossible to treat.
Here are the STDs to look out for, including what to do if you end up infected.
As one of the most common STDs, gonorrhea used to be easily curable with antibiotic medicine. According to the CDC, approximately 820,000 people are infected by gonorrhea per year. Even though most who have the STD don’t show symptoms, it could cause serious health problems down the line. Because of this, it’s particularly scary that it’s becoming impossible to treat.
Gonorrhea’s intelligent bacteria is to blame for its transition into becoming an incurable disease. The World Health Organization reported, “Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them.”
New antibiotics to treat those infected aren’t all that’s needed. Preventative long-term vaccines and tests to predict the antibiotics’ effectiveness are also crucial.
While chlamydia isn’t resisting antibiotics as strongly as gonorrhea, it is still the most commonly reported infectious disease. Nearly 3 million Americans are infected per year, typically from ages 14 to 24, according to Planned Parenthood.
Similar to gonorrhea, it is a bacterial infection that once was easily cured, and can be contracted from vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It also doesn’t show any signs until major health problems occur in the future.
While chlamydia isn’t in immediate danger of becoming incurable in the U.S., it has proven to be more resistant to antibiotics in other countries, according to NBC News.
Syphilis is another STD that is on the path to becoming incurable. Like chlamydia, it could previously be easily cured with antibiotics, but it is now presenting problems in countries outside of the U.S.
Though syphilis may not be as common as gonorrhea or chlamydia, it presents itself more clearly. It can be spread from vaginal, anal, and oral sex, as well as from “sexual skin-to-skin contact,” as reported by Planned Parenthood. Signs of syphilis include painless sores on your genitals, and sometimes on your lips or mouth.
Without treatment, syphilis can eventually cause brain damage, paralysis, or even blindness. This makes the fact that it’s becoming impossible to treat that much scarier.
4. A new treatment guideline has been released
The World Health Organization has released new treatment guidelines for these three common, yet dangerous STDs. The guidelines are developed to create “global norms and standards for STD treatment and prevention intended for healthcare professionals,” according to NBC News.
Taking immediate action is the most important guideline included. Antibiotic resistance should be monitored, with the hopes of developing new treatment options. The guidelines order that taking preventative caution, in addition to prompt treatment, is absolutely critical.
5. What are the major concerns?
If chlamydia and syphilis become as resistant to antibiotics as gonorrhea is, all three will pose serious concerns. In the case of gonorrhea, it used to be highly treatable by a number of different antibiotics. It’s now dwindled down to only one effective class of antibiotics, which the STD has been showing signs of resisting.
Because of this, NBC News reported its bacteria have been classified as “multi-resistant organisms,” otherwise known as “superbugs.” We don’t have to be scientists to know how scary that sounds.
6. Current treatment methods
Considering gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are not completely incurable yet, their treatments haven’t been changed. Gonorrhea is currently treated with a single shot of ceftriaxone and oral azithromycin.
For chlamydia, a complete course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor should still cure the infection in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Syphilis can still be cured in its early stages with an injection of Benzathine penicillin G. As noted by the CDC, “Treatment will kill the syphilis bacterium and prevent further damage, but it will not repair damage already done.”
7. Best methods for prevention
While treatment may still be available for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, it might not be forever. Even though anyone who is sexually active is at risk, specific preventative measures can be taken to avoid it all together: get tested, be honest with your partner, and use condoms.
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