Health Alert – Gay men at risk for antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea

A new editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine brings to light the concern for the rising rate of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea in the U.S.

What is Gonorrhea and why am I at risk?

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection in the United States, with an estimated 600,000 plus cases every year. It disproportionately affects vulnerable populations such as minorities who are marginalized because of race, ethnic group, or sexual orientation. Men who have sex with men, for example, are among the populations hardest hit by the disease.

Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhea, a bacterium that grows and multiplies quickly in moist, warm areas of the body such as the cervix, urinary tract, mouth, or rectum.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include burning while urinating, discharge, and pain during intercourse. Symptoms of rectal infection include anal itching, and sometimes painful bowel movements. Symptoms usually appear two to five days after contracting the infection, although in some cases there may be no symptoms at all, particularly with rectal infection.

What is the danger of infection?

Men with untreated gonorrhea may develop Epididymitis (an inflammation of the epididymis-the long, tightly coiled tube that lies behind each testicle and collects sperm), an inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis), and a higher risk of getting bladder cancer.

What can I do?

Most forms of Gonorrhea can still be treated effectively with antibiotics. However, the best defense is still a good offense. Condoms are still your best bet to keep from getting infected in the first place. Limiting the number of sexual partners also helps in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections. If you think you may be infected, see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

For more information:

New England Journal of Medicine
WebMD
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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