Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea: Staying Well While Traveling – News Block

Lots of people have casual sex when they travel. While this is nothing new, it’s more important than ever that while we’re enjoying vacations and traveling abroad, we watch out for STIs and do everything we can to prevent them from happening.

Having sex without a condom on holiday risks returning to the UK with an infection. In this blog, we take a look at an STI that’s circulating in popular vacation destinations and why it’s so important to use protection wherever you travel.

Travelers having casual sex abroad should be aware of the risks and use condoms with any new or casual partners while abroad. In the same way that we buy travel insurance or apply sunscreen, we should be thinking about safer sex.

The message is not about avoiding sex, it is about being aware of the risk of infection and using condoms consistently and correctly with all new or casual partners.

What STIs are increasing and what are the risks for travelers?

There is an increasing risk of antibiotic-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae), which is increasing in popular tourist destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, including countries such as China, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines. This type of gonorrhea is not easy to treat.

Why is gonorrhea getting harder to treat?

N.gonorrhoeae, the bacterium that causes gonorrhea, has developed some level of resistance to all classes of antibiotics recommended for treatment, including ceftriaxone, which is considered “last line” therapy. This means we have no other treatment option when this doesn’t work.

Ceftriaxone resistance is common in the Asia-Pacific region and is rarely found in the UK. However, we have recently seen an increase in cases; this increase can generally be attributed to holiday visitors to the region or students traveling to the UK.

Between December 2015 and September 2021, nine cases of ceftriaxone-resistant N. gonorrhoeae were detected in the UK, all associated with international travel. However, another 10 cases were reported during the 6-month period between December 2021 and June 2022. These travel-associated cases serve as a cautionary reminder of the ease with which resistant strains of STIs can be contracted abroad, and indeed, not everything that happens on vacation stays on vacation.

Gonorrhea cases in England

At home, high gonorrhea rates remain a problem after a 50% increase in diagnoses between 2021 and 2022: There were 82,592 gonorrhea diagnoses in 2022, the most since STI surveillance began in 1918.

If you have had sex without condoms, it is still important to be aware of any recently developed STI-related symptoms, such as a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, painful urination, pain and discomfort in the rectum, and, in women and others with a uterus or ovaries, lower abdominal pain and bleeding between periods.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to avoid sexual contact and get a sexual health exam; even when symptoms are not present, it is now recommended that those who have had sex without a condom while abroad get a sexual health examination on return to the UK, as people with gonorrhea will often have no symptoms, especially for infections in the throat, vagina or rectum.

get tested

D.depending on where you liveyou could get an STIautosampling kitshipped to your home, talk to your local pharmacist or just drop inyour local sexual health clinic to request an STI test.

Testing for and treating gonorrhea as soon as possible is very important, as if left unchecked, it can lead to serious long-term health problems. Gonorrhea can spread to the reproductive organs and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Gonorrhea can also cause pain in the testicles and, in some cases, reduced fertility.

Although new antibiotic treatments for gonorrhea are being developed, they are not expected to be available anytime soon, so it is important to take steps to protect ourselves from all STIs when we are at home or away and to use condoms when having sex with new and casual partners.

Returning from our adventures abroad with fond memories is preferable to bringing an infection, practice safer sex so you don’t go through customs with unreported antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.

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