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'Slowdown' in drug resistant gonorrhoea

The emergence of drug-resistant gonorrhoea has slowed down, according to Public Health England (PHE). 

However, the organisation is worried that “too many” people are still catching the disease. 

Although significant public health efforts have been effective in targeting previously circulating strains, a fifth of all diagnoses last year were repeat cases. 

The proportion of cases resistant to the antibiotic cefixime fell from 11% in 2011 to 6% in 2012.

Resistance to azithromycin increased from 0.5% to 0.7% of cases.

The latest figures show 40% of cases had chlamydia as well as gonorrhoea, and over a quarter of people with gonhorrhoea also had HIV, reaching four in ten men who have sex with men.

Total new gonorrhoea diagnoses in England jumped 21% in 2012. 

Professor Cathy Ison, leading the PHE gonorrhoea resistance surveillance programme, said people must continue to be “vigilant”. 

She said: “While the resistance data are better than expected, they can only represent a temporary reprieve.  

“An ongoing focus on prompt gonorrhoea diagnosis, adherence to prescribing guidelines and the effective identification and management of potential treatment failures, is crucial.” 

Dr Gwenda Hughes, PHE head of sexually transmitted infections surveillance, said: “In 2012 we saw another large rise in new gonorrhoea diagnoses, and are particularly concerned about the high infection rates amongst men who have sex with men, and young adults in some urban areas. 

“These findings reinforce the importance of continued sexual health promotion work and maintaining easy access to sexual health services and testing in England.”