The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently sounded a warning about the emerging global antibiotic resistance to gonorrhoea (Neisseria gonorrhoea) a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In 2012 we heard a similar conversation, however at the time we had another class of antibiotics on the shelf ready to go. Today, we could be facing limited antibiotic options to treat this common STI.
Over time, all bacteria develop resistance to the antibiotics we use to protect ourselves. The gonorrhoea family of bacteria have developed into a particularly stubborn infection which causes around 66% of the infections found in hospitals and nursing homes in Australia. Today more than ever, we need to carefully use the antibiotics that still work against gonorrhoea in the way they’re meant and also invest time and money into developing new ones.
Gonorrhoea is easy to transmit sexually between partners. It is often found in the throat, cock, arse, and vagina and on rare occasions it can infect the eyes. While kissing is not considered a risk and condoms can protect you from gonorrhoea, this resilient bug can easily be transferred by oral contact like sucking cock, eating out someone’s hole or transferred digitally from fingers to condoms and toys. An example is transferring it into your eye by touching it after fingering someone or through mutual wanking or docking (sticking your cock into someone else’s foreskin) or nudging (sticking your cock in and pulling it out of someone’s arse).
Some people with gonorrhoea have no symptoms, while others have a sore throat or a discharge from the urethra (piss hole) and pain when pissing or taking a crap. If you have sex without a condom while you’re on PrEP, you can still acquire gonorrhoea, another STI or hepatitis C. The longer gonorrhoea remains untreated it is more likely to become a problem, so regular testing is important. Besides the painful infection in your nuts for guys, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) for women, it can cause infertility in both men and women and has also been linked to a number of pregnancy complications.
As a community of all orientations, preferences and different ‘kinks’, we can protect ourselves even if we have limited treatment options for gonorrhoea. While condoms are still a mainstay in preventing STIs, other elements include testing and talking about sex and our sexual health. Having an open conversation with your GP or clinic nurse about how you fuck helps them make sure you get the tests and information you need to manage your sexual health. Talking with your partners and fuck buddies about STI risk and prevention can help to maintain lower levels of STIs among your sexual networks.
A negative test at the time of your last STI test means you are simply negative at that time of the test. It holds no meaning for your risk of STIs the next time you have sex particularly if it’s going to be ‘bare backing’ or ‘raw’ or if the condom breaks. When someone advertises a negative test result on their hookup profile, it only means they were negative at the time of the test. By the time you see that notice, they could be positive for any STI. STIs can take time to show up on a test, so any sexual activity they’ve had since their last test has to be taken into account.
When you hook up on mobile apps it can be much easier to have this conversation about the type of sex you want. You can bring up any recent test results you might have. Some guys don’t find this an easy conversation. Starting that conversation as you walk through the door can be a scene killer. That’s why it’s more important than ever to bring it up. Comments that use words like ‘clean’, ‘only neg’, ‘Neg UB2’ are unhelpful and can be a turn off. If you get a knock back, it’s probably not the kind of fuck you’d want anyway.
Sure, it can feel like a complex conversation, but it’s one we all need to have. It’s not easy to be the first to bring the topic up but it means you’re better able to take control of your health. If you or a partner raises the topic, take it as a good sign. They care about their health and yours. Your other options are to have a chat with your doctor, nurse, or peer organisation about ways to bring the topic up. If telling a partner about a recent diagnosis is difficult, it can help to talk with your doctor, nurse, peer organisation for further support.
Ultimately we need a vaccine. Some promising observations have been made in a New Zealand study on a vaccine against a gonococcal infection that causes meningitis has showed some protection. We still have some way to go before we have an effective vaccine for gonorrhoea. In general, antibiotics are only good against severe bacterial infections. Sharing antibiotics can fuel resistance to these first line protective medications. Always take them exactly as you’ve been prescribed until they’re completely finished (no pills left), even when your symptoms start to clear up and always throw your old medications away. If you still have symptoms or feel unwell, go back to your doctor for further follow-up. Antibiotics for an STI always take at least a week or more to do their job, so during this time it’s important to take care to protect your partners and condoms can be a way to do this.
Antibiotic resistance is on the rise worldwide and it’s important we heed these warnings with confidence. We can stay ahead and take care of ourselves by talking, testing regularly and get treated quickly if you need it.
If you want to talk to a peer like yourself, call us at Positive Life on (02) 8357 8386, 1800 245 677 (freecall) or email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also talk to your sexual health clinic nurses or your doctor or call the NSW Sexual Health Info Line – www.shil.nsw.gov.au