Gonorrhea- on its way of becoming a superbug

April is STD Awareness Month and we believe it is time to focus on this important topic. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) around 1 million STIs are acquired every day worldwide.

In the previous weeks we talked about STIs, STDs and VDs and the differences between them and about one of the most common STIs, Chlamydia.


Today, we are shedding a light on another very common STIs, Gonorrhea, a sexually acquired infection that has become a public health concern. How do you know you have an infection with Gonorrhea and what should you do next? Read further!


Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Worldwide it is the second most common STI of bacterial origin, affecting more than 60 million people annually. The infection attacks the immune system, making it susceptible for repeated infections.


Gonorrhea can be transmitted through:

  • Direct contact between two individuals during sexual intercourse: vaginal, anal, oral

  • Direct contact with an infected cervical canal during birth

  • Hand contact from genital area to eyes

  • Transmission is more efficient from men to women rather than from women to men

  • After a single exposure, a man has a 20% risk of acquiring the infection and can increase up to 80% upon more exposure



Risk factors

  • Young age: below 25 years old (as studies show that young age is correlated with a riskier sexual life)

  • Previous infection with Gonorrhea or other STIs

  • Inconsistent condom use

  • New or multiple partners

  • A partner with an existent Gonorrhea infection


Prevalence

  • In the last 20 years, infections with gonorrhea increased, especially in populations with higher frequency of spreading STIs (men who have sex with men, young sexually active adults < 25 years)

  • In the US, the highest incidence of infections with gonorrhea are amongst people aged 15 to 24. A number of reasons explain these numbers: increased number of sexual partners, decreased access to healthcare providers, decreased use of barrier contraceptives (condoms, diaphragm, cervical cap, contraceptive sponge); up to 60% of infections happen to people younger than 25 years