Another Sexually Transmitted Plague?
August 5, 2011
An international research team have discovered a new strain of extremely antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. They presented details of their findings last week at the 19th conference of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research (ISSTDR) in Quebec City, Quebec.
It was bound to happen. After most of a century of antibiotic use, it's no longer a surprise to find bacteria like MRSA that can stand up to every antibiotic we can throw at it. It was only a matter of time until one came along that was sexually transmissible and could kill -- sound familiar? This new bug will affect the HIV community in at least two ways.
First, despite all the promise of treatment-as-prevention and PrEP for groups at highest risk, we can't throw away our condoms. Even if we can make new HIV infections almost unheard of, the world's 33 million people already living with immune systems compromised by HIV can become fertile ground for the emergence and spread of new superbugs. This is one more reason to say that HAART drugs are good but not enough: we need immune-boosting therapies to protect everyone, not just people with HIV, from preventable emergence of new MRSAs and Neisseria gonorrhoeae's.
Second, the era of antibiotics may be drawing to a close. All the more reason to keep working on immune-boosting therapies, because we're going to need them in coming decades to replace classes of antibiotics that don't work anymore. Basic-science HIV research may turn out to be as important for controlling new superbacteria as they emerge as it has been for finding new, more effective therapies for HCV and other viral infections.
Reprinted courtesy of the National Association of People With AIDS.
This article was provided by The Black AIDS Institute. It is a part of the publication Black AIDS Weekly. Visit Black AIDS Institute's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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