Antibiotic Resistance

There are several scary infectious diseases that are no longer treatable through antibiotics – most articles discussing these have been looking at hospitals, which is where the strains like MRSA develop and prosper.

However, there’s another set of infections that’s developing into superbugs. Sexually-transmitted diseases. Here’s a New Yorker article on the rise of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea – Sex and the Superbug. It makes the point that gonorrhea is considered a trivial nuisance – and even with the resistant strain, not everyone who gets it will suffer the worst symptoms.

You know what other STI is on the verge of becoming a superbug – with only one effective antibiotic treatment left, and no new ones on the horizon? Syphilis. And syphilis is just a wee bit more serious than gonorrhea.

What appalls (but not surprises) me is the sheer number of patients the clinic in the article sees for STIs that refuse to notify their partners. What better illustration of the profoundly selfish and abusive nature of casual sex could you have, than the widespread refusal of people who are carrying potentially life-changing diseases to (a) ‘fess up to their “lovers” and (b) use a condom to prevent the spread of the disease? We need a derogatory word for people like that, some kind of insult along the lines of “typhoid Mary” only with a greater punch for modern ears – since typhoid fever isn’t one of the superbugs that’s started spreading again. Yet.

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