STI & HIV World Congress July 9 – 12, 2017 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This press release from WHO is based on two papers to be published just before the STI & HIV World Congress begins in Brazil. WHO will host a session on tackling antimicrobial resistance and the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach.
From Press Release by WHO, 7 July 2017
GENEVA – Data from 77 countries show that antibiotic resistance is making gonorrhea – a common sexually-transmitted infection – much harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat.
“The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them,” said Dr Teodora Wi, Medical Officer, Human Reproduction, at WHO.
WHO reports widespread resistance to older and cheaper antibiotics. Some countries – particularly high-income ones, where surveillance is best – are finding cases of the infection that are untreatable by all known antibiotics.
“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhea is actually more common,” adds Dr Wi.
Each year, an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea*. Gonorrhea can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat. Complications of gonorrhea disproportionately affect women, including pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, as well as an increased risk of HIV.
Decreasing condom use, increased urbanization and travel, poor infection detection rates, and inadequate or failed treatment all contribute to this increase.
Development of new drugs
The R&D pipeline for gonorrhea is relatively empty, with only 3 new candidate drugs in various stages of clinical development: solithromycin, for which a phase III trial has recently been completed; zoliflodacin, which has completed a phase II trial; and gepotidacin, which has also completed a phase II trial.
The development of new antibiotics is not very attractive for commercial pharmaceutical companies. Treatments are taken only for short periods of time (unlike medicines for chronic diseases) and they become less effective as resistance develops, meaning that the supply of new drugs constantly needs to be replenished.
Today, lack of public awareness, lack of training of health workers, and stigma around sexually transmitted infections remain barriers to greater and more effective use of these interventions.
Each year, an estimated 35.2 million people are infected in the WHO Western Pacific Region, 11.4 million people in the WHO South-East Asian Region, 11.4 million in the WHO African Region, 11.0 million in the WHO Region of the Americas, 4.7 million in the WHO European Region and 4.5 million in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region.
For more information on this topic, visit WHO press release here.