Doctors in the UK seem to be winning the battle against drug resistant gonorrhoea, but their efforts are being hampered by its ongoing transmission.

The Department of Health reported today that resistance to the second line treatment – cefixime – declined, while resistance to the first line treatment – azithromycin – only increased by 0.2%.

However, a fifth of all diagnoses in 2012 were repeat cases and around 4 in 10 cases also had chlamydia. Over a quarter of people with gonorrhoea also had HIV, reaching 40% among men who have sex with men (MSM).

To combat the continuing high rates of STI transmission in England, and the growing risk of gonorrhoea treatment resistance you should:

  • always use a condom when having sex with casual and new partners
  • reduce the number of sexual partners and avoid overlapping sexual relationships
  • get a regular STI check-up if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners

Lisa Power, Policy Director for Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘Gay and bisexual men remain at disproportionate risk from gonorrhoea and the rates of HIV co-infection are particularly worrying. It’s therefore vital for people to protect themselves against gonorrhoea and to note that, even if you’re HIV positive and having sex with others who are also HIV positive, you still need to use condoms to maintain good sexual health.

‘Gay and bisexual men have a key role in stopping drug-resistant forms of gonorrhoea from taking hold, so it’s important that local authorities invest in targeted prevention campaigns and accessible testing and treatment services for this group.

‘The best way to beat drug resistance is to stop gonorrhoea being transmitted in the first place. Condoms provide the best protection, although even those who think they’ve been safe might have been at risk, especially through oral sex. We would encourage gay and bisexual men to attend sexual health check ups at least every three months if they are having sex with new or casual partners.’