Doctors in the United States say that a new form of gonorrhea, resistant to antibiotics, might be more dangerous than AIDS. The strain, referred to as the “sex superbug,” has at least two confirmed cases in Hawaii.
Called H041, the infection was first discovered in Japan in 2011. It subsequently spread to Hawaii and has now also surfaced in California and Norway. Gonorrhea is already the second most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection in North America.
The State Department of Health has advised that it notified health care providers and physicians in Hawaii to be vigilant of the new resistant strain.
“This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect people quickly,” Dr. Alan Christianson told CNBC.
“Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days. This is very dangerous,” he added.
Christianson stressed that, although no deaths from the infection are reported as yet, safe sexual practices are highly recommended. He said that regular STI screenings are important.
This advice is reinforced by a new HIV prevention initiative in England established by the Terrence Higgins Trust charity (THT). The campaign seeks to improve education and create awareness on the need for frequent screenings, including for STIs in general.
“We have the preventative tools at our fingertips with new testing and treatment technologies. Its just a matter of deploying those in the right way and motivating people,” THT Head of Programs Cary James told 429Magazine.
‘It Starts With Me’ places a priority on regular testing. Screening every 12 months is recommended in general, and more frequently for individuals placing themselves at higher risk of transmission. Individual responsibility is central to this initiative.
“Its about personal responsibility, people taking ownership of their own lives. Finding out one’s status early is important in any situation, but this is especially the case in areas where there is less control over spread of STIs,” James concluded.