This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gonorrhea Is on the Rise Again--Send in the Condoms

We have had a wonderful half-century treating diseases with penicillin and related antibiotics. But, as evolutionary theory would predict, those diseases have been evolving in order to quite literally fight for their survival. New evidence suggests that gonorrhea has done exactly this, as a new drug-resistant strain of this sexually-transmitted disease has emerged and is spreading around the globe. MSNBC has the report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
"This organism has basically been developing resistance against every medication we've thrown at it," said Dr. Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, a scientist in the agency's department of sexually transmitted diseases. This includes a group of antibiotics called cephalosporins currently considered the last line of treatment.
"In a couple of years it will have become resistant to every treatment option we have available now," she told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of WHO's public announcement on its 'global action plan' to combat the disease.
The WHO said those fears are now reality with many more countries, including Australia, France, Norway, Sweden and Britain, reporting cases of the sexually transmitted disease resistant to cephalosporin antibiotics.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection which, if left untreated, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirths, severe eye infections in babies, and infertility in both men and women.
Once considered a scourge of sailors and soldiers, gonorrhea — known colloquially as the clap — became easily treatable with the discovery of penicillin. Now, it is again the second most common sexually transmitted infection after chlamydia. The global health body estimates that of the 498 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections worldwide, gonorrhea is responsible for some 106 million infections annually. It also increases the chances of infection with other diseases, such as HIV.

Frustratingly, nowhere in this article is there mention of the effective means for eliminating sexually transmitted diseases--using condoms during intercourse. By allowing the disease to spread, on the assumption that it can treated, we humans are the ones whose lack of vigilance permits the disease to remain alive on the planet. The old idea of "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" seems all but forgotten--at least for the moment.

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