In spite of the many miracle drugs on the market, there are illnesses and diseases that are becoming harder to treat and cure. Gonorrhoea is one of them, and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the bacteria that causes the STI is becoming more dangerous as it grows immune to antibiotics. It has already been reported that in some cases, it cannot be treated at all.

This kinda sounds like the plot to a B-grade thriller from the 90s, but unfortunately this is very real and the consequences will be devastating. According to WHO, around 78 million people are infected by gonorrhoea annually; and currently some of the most effective treatments include taking a series of antibiotics. But antibiotics are becoming less effective, as the bacteria grows resistant. ‘Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them,’ says Dr Teodora Wi, a Medical Officer at WHO.

So what happens now? Well, WHO reports that things look a little bleak at the moment, with only three new candidate drugs in the various stages of development. That means that if things become worse, there are only really three viable options in the foreseeable future. WHO also reports that the reason for this is that pharmaceutical companies just don’t see this kind of medicine as lucrative enough to invest research in. Considering the fact that gonorrhoea disproportionately affects women (including pelvic inflammatory disease, complications in pregnancy, infertility and increased risk of contracting HIV), women will be disproportionately affected.

At this stage however, prevention is better than cure. Progress on treating HIV and AIDs has created an illusion that safe sex is no longer a priority, and that there’s a cure for everything out there. Unfortunately there are plenty of nasty things (like gonorrhoea) that can still harm you,  so one way of ensuring your safety is simply by practicing safer sex.



The gonorrhoea bacteria as seen under a microscope.