Sexually Transmitted Diseases
The World Health Organization
estimates there are at least 340 million
new cases of curable sexually
transmitted infections -- including
syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and
trichomoniasis -- every year among
people aged 15 to 49.

By analysing this new strain of
neisseria gonorrhea, called H041,
researchers identified the genetic
mutations responsible for the new
strain's extreme resistance to all
cephalosporin-class antibiotics.

Since antibiotics became the standard
treatment for gonorrhoea in the 1940s,
this bacterium has shown a remarkable
capacity to develop resistance
mechanisms to all drugs introduced to
control it.  "While it is still too early to
assess if this new strain has become
widespread, the history of newly
emergent resistance in the bacterium
suggests that it may spread rapidly
unless new drugs and effective
treatment programs are developed."

Some 50% of women infected with
gonorrhea have no symptoms. The
same is true of 2-5% of men.

When symptomatic, gonorrhea is
characterised by a burning sensation
when urinating and can cause
discharge from the genitals.

Asked whether a class of drugs called
carbapenems -- known as the most
powerful antibiotics yet devised --
might be a last ditch option for treating
this new gonorrhea strain, researchers
said there would first need to be trials
to assess their potential.

Carbapenems have never been used
for the treatment of gonorrhea.

Merck & Co.’s vaccine Gardasil for
warding off a virus that causes cervical
cancer in women also reduces
infection rates and genital warts in
young men, according to a study in the
New England Journal of Medicine.

A company-funded clinical trial
involving 4,065 sexually active
teenagers and men in their 20s found
genital lesions developed in 36 given
Gardasil, compared with 89 who
received a placebo. The shot was
more effective, preventing 90 percent
of warts, when researchers looked only
at those who weren’t infected at the
start of the study and received all
three doses of the vaccine.

The risk of acquiring HIV through
unprotected anal sex is at least 20
times greater than with unprotected
vaginal sex.  
Could the use of lubricants - at least
certain kinds - be another risk factor
among men and women who engage
in  anal intercourse?
Two studies presented at the
International Microbicides Conference
in Pittsburgh, suggest the answer is

In one study involving nearly 900 men
and women in Baltimore and Los
Angeles, the researchers found that
those who used lubricants were three
times more likely to have rectal
sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Another study that subjected popular
over-the-counter and mail-order
lubricants to rigorous laboratory tests
discovered that many of the products
were toxic to cells and rectal tissue.

In the United States alone, receptive
anal intercourse is practiced in up to
90 percent of gay and other men who
have sex with men, according to
International Rectal Microbicides
Advocates.  U.S. estimates and
surveys in the United Kingdom indicate
between 10 to 35 percent of
heterosexual women have engaged in
anal sex at least once. Globally,
estimates suggest 5 to 10 percent of
sexually active women are having anal
sex. While condoms are generally
effective for protecting against HIV and
other STIs, most acts of anal sex go

Microbicides - substances applied
topically on the inside of the rectum or
vagina - could potentially help prevent
the rectal transmission of HIV, and
some are being tested in early Phase I
safety studies. Another approach
called oral pre-exposure prophylaxis
(PrEP) involves the use of
antiretroviral drugs to reduce the risk
of HIV in HIV-negative people. A large
Phase III trial of PrEP involving men
who have sex with men in South
America, Africa and the United States
is expected to report results by early
next year. Yet, if either of these
approaches is found effective in
clinical trials, they will do no good if
those most at risk don't use them.