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Press Release

AHF: World Health Organization Says Drug Resistant Gonorrhea is on the Rise

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Posted on: 01 Sep 16

Common sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, are becoming more difficult to treat due to antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday. In releasing new guidelines for treating these bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs), WHO expressed concerns that “resistance of these STIs to the effect of antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options. Of the 3 STIs, gonorrhea has developed the strongest resistance to antibiotics. Strains of multidrug-resistant gonorrhea that do not respond to any available antibiotics have already been detected. Antibiotic resistance in chlamydia and syphilis, though less common, also exists, making prevention and prompt treatment critical.”

While WHO treatment guidelines for these infections have not changed since 2003, in its statement yesterday WHO named “misuse and overuse” of antibiotics as a cause for the rise of drug resistant strains. In the newly released guidelines, WHO does not recommend quinolones (a class of antibiotic) for the treatment of gonorrhea due to widespread high levels of resistance. The new WHO guidelines also strongly recommend a single dose of benzathine penicillin to cure syphilis and continue to recommend doxycycline and azithromycin as the best choices to treat chlamydia.

“The continued global concern around the rise of drug resistant sexually transmitted diseases underscores the importance of using condoms, which are still one of the most effective methods of protection,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein.

Last December, Britain’s top doctor and pharmaceutical officer issued warnings about an antibiotic resistant “super-gonorrhea” that had been identified in the country and urged medical providers to consistently prescribe both antibiotics—injectable ceftriaxone and azithromycin—used to properly treat the sexually transmitted infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States, with 350,062 gonorrhea cases being reported in 2014. In March 2015, the White House released its National Action Plan to “Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria” (CARB) and through federal funding for CARB in fiscal year 2016, the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP) says it is supporting a number of new and continuing activities that aim to slow the development of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea and prevent its spread.

AHF’s Wellness Centers provide free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. To find the nearest location for STD screening and treatment, visit

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 600,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website:, find us on Facebook: and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

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Business Wire

Last updated on: 01/09/2016

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