The Associated Press reported this week that theWorld Health Organization released a global action plan to tackle a form of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, which is emerging around the globe — first in Japan then more recently to Britain, Australia, France, Sweden, and Norway.
In response to questions, U.S. health officials told NewsOne that doctors here should increase studies of the bacterial infection that can cause inflammation, complicate pregnancies, cause infertility, and facilitate HIV infection.
“We can say that we are seeing early warning signs abroad that the disease is becoming resistant to treatment,” says Dr. Robert Kirkcaldy, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, “which is why we should take action now.”
According to Kirkcaldy, there is the very real prospect of untreatable gonorrhea emerging in the United States, especially in communities of color.
If so, this spells bad news for African Americans. Dr. Kirkcaldy says it’s difficult to predict how long it could take untreatable gonorrhea to emerge in the United States. Medical experts speculate, though, that it could be in about a decade.
Overall, African Americans remain disproportionately affected by gonorrhea, accounting for the majority of infections (69 percent or 167,655 cases) in 2010, says Dr. Kirkcaldy, who cites the latest available statistics. The infection rate among Blacks is 20 times as high as Whites (512.2 vs. 26.0 per 100,000 people) and 8 times as high among Hispanics, he adds. While reported gonorrhea rates have hit historically low levels in recent years, the number of cases still remain unacceptably high in the United States.