The United Nations health agency has issued new guidelines for the treatment of three common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis – in response to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.
“Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are major public health problems worldwide, affecting millions of peoples’ quality of life, causing serious illness and sometimes death,” the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director of Reproductive Health and Research, Ian Askew, said in a news release.
“The new WHO guidelines reinforce the need to treat these STIs with the right antibiotic, at the right dose, and the right time to reduce their spread and improve sexual and reproductive health,” he added. “To do that, national health services need to monitor the patterns of antibiotic resistance in these infections within their countries.”
Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are all caused by bacteria and are generally curable with antibiotics, according to WHO. However, these STIs often go undiagnosed and are becoming more difficult to treat, with some antibiotics now failing as a result of misuse and overuse.
It is estimated that, each year, 131 million people are infected with chlamydia, 78 million with gonorrhoea, and 5.6 million with syphilis.
In the news release, WHO noted that resistance of these STIs to the effect of antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options. Of the three STIs, gonorrhoea has developed the strongest resistance to antibiotics. Strains of multidrug-resistant gonorrhoea 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.
In the news release, WHO said that when left undiagnosed and untreated, the three STIs can result in serious complications and long-term health problems for women, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage, and untreated gonorrhoea and chlamydia can cause infertility in both men and women. Infection with chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis can also increase a person’s risk of being infected with HIV two- to three-fold. Also, an untreated STI in a pregnant woman increases the chances of stillbirth and newborn death.
Source: United Nations
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