Sexual health experts highlight need for robust action in response to spread of treatment-resistant gonorrhoea

7th July 2017

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) urges appropriate funding for sexual health services and maintenance of robust public health action following reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) of newly diagnosed cases of gonorrhoea that are resistant to all existing antibiotics.

Data collected from 77 countries shows that gonorrhoea is becoming increasingly difficult to treat using existing antibiotics.  The report highlights growing gonorrhoea resistance to the last resort treatment antibiotics, including the extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs) oral cefixime or injectable ceftriaxone, and significantly, the first cases of gonorrhoea that are resistant to all known antibiotics.

Findings released from the King’s Fund earlier this year meanwhile showed that overall funding for sexual health services had fallen in 2015/16, with a quarter of local authorities having reduced spending by more than 20%.

Commenting on the spread of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea, Dr Elizabeth Carlin, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said:

The continued spread of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea is extremely worrying and we need to contain its threat as much as possible.

Whilst there are currently no known cases of gonorrhoea that are resistant to all antibiotics in the UK, it is essential that we ensure that rapid access to diagnosis and treatment, responsible antibiotic prescribing, rigorous partner notification and the promotion of safe sex measures are all in place.  Doing so will improve individual sexual health and will maximise the control of infection in the wider community.

BASHH reiterates the importance of providing appropriate funding for accessible sexual health services to enable them to deliver not only preventative public health functions, but also the specialist clinical components which are crucial to minimising the spread of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea.

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