Cheap STD Treatment, We Hardly Knew Ye

This week, the World Health Organization warned Earth's genitalia that a new strain of drug-resistant gonorrhea was poised to unleash untreatable horror around the globe unless people were more careful with their junk. The good news is that "drug resistant" STD's aren't necessarily immune to all treatments. But the bad news? In the near future, getting a "minor" STD could land you in the hospital.

It seems like every few months or so, headlines yell very loudly about how there's some new superbug of venereal crotchblister disease that's completely unkillable with antibiotics, and so (ironically!) it's easy to build up a resistance to the sort of fear and alarm you're probably supposed to feel about this sort of thing. But this time, the WHO swears that their concerns are serious as a heart attack (or a pandemic).

The new strain of super gonorrhea has appeared around the world, including in several industrialized countries. It doesn't respond to any traditional treatments, and headlines have indicated that it's impossible to cure.

But that's not quite the case. According to Wired's Superbug blog, the disease isn't resistant to all treatment; it's just resistant to traditional, outpatient treatments. The reason that bacterial STI's like gonorrhea and chlamydia haven't ballooned to a major health crisis is that they're treatable cheaply in a community health care-type setting. Patients can go in, get checked out, leave with a mittful of antibiotics, and expect to be rid of their little microscopic friend within a fortnight. But as the disease grows resistant to antibiotics, treating it becomes much more costly and expensive. The WHO's guidelines for addressing the new strain of gonorrhea include increased lab capacity, testing of each patient's specific strain of the disease, and refraining from overprescribing antibiotics. Whether or not you have regular ol' Oh Darn gonorrhea or treatment-resistant Oh Holy Fuck gonorrhea, you may soon have to go through a longer, more expensive process to get treated.

And patients with the more serious strain of the disease won't have any outpatient options, which means they'll have to be treated in a hospital setting or set loose into the world with their super disease, which, when left untreated, can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and maternal death. Whee!

Wrap it up, kids.

[Wired]