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Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea

Fishtown Wellness Center / Gender and Sexuality  / Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea

Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea

By: Riley Fortier, M.Ed.

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STI in the United States. There are 500,000 reported cases in the United States per year, but the CDC suggests it is underreported and is likely closer to 1.5 million cases per year. About half of all infections are resistant to at least one antibiotic. There is currently only one treatment recommendation remaining.  

Antimicrobial resistance happens when bacteria and fungi develop the ability to resist, or defeat, the drugs designed to kill them. For example, gonorrhea has developed resistance to nearly all antibiotics used for its treatment. There is currently only one last recommended and effective class of antibiotics for it: cephalosporins. 

Preparing to detect and respond to resistant strains

(1) Hiring and training state and local public health personnel so they have better tools and systems to respond to emerging threats;

(2) Increasing epidemiological investigations of gonorrhea cases and their sexual and social networks to help local jurisdictions better understand gonorrhea-related transmission dynamics in their area;

(3) Expanding the use of culture beyond male urethritis in STD clinics, so that extragenital specimens and specimens from women with gonorrhea are routinely collected, as well as test-of-cure specimens as needed;

(4) Exploring different ways to expand gonorrhea culture to sexual and social networks, populations, and funded jurisdictions where nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) without antimicrobial susceptibility testing markers are the current gonorrhea diagnostic testing method;

(5) Establishing Etest capacity as a rapid way to detect susceptibility and resistance until novel rapid molecular tests are in place; and

(6) Rapidly providing lab results on resistance to providers and public health personnel to quickly identify, treat, and stop the spread of resistant gonorrhea strains.


  1. Know your status! Get testing every 6 months or with every new sexual partner
  2. Talk about it! Share your status with new partners and make sure your partners know and share their status as well (Need help talking with your partner, check out our relationship services).
  3. Use a condom for anal, oral, or vaginal sex, or use a dental dam for oral or anal stimulation. 




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