Why STIs are  becoming difficult to treat

Why STIs are becoming difficult to treat

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) often go undiagnosed and are becoming more difficult to treat, with some antibiotics now failing as a result of misuse and overuse.
In Lesotho, due to the absence of the Drug Regulatory Authority and Stringent Laws governing the pharmaceutical industry, and protecting the public, we have antibiotics easily accessible and roaming our streets. For instance, antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin (usually referred to as “Pilisi ea ente” by users, Metronidazole (Flagyl), and Doxycycline are often abused for sexually transmitted diseases. People self-diagnose and self-treat!

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Syphilis are major public health problems worldwide, affecting millions of peoples’ quality of life, causing serious illness and sometimes death.
The WHO further reports that resistance of STIs such as gonorrhoea, Syphilis and chlamydia to the effect of antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options.

Strains of multidrug resistant gonorrhoea that do not respond to any available antibiotics have already been detected. Antibiotic resistance in chlamydia and syphilis, though less common, also exists.
The new WHO guidelines reinforce the need to treat these STIs with the right antibiotic, at the right dose, and the right time to reduce their spread and improve sexual and reproductive health. To do that, national health services need to monitor the patterns of antibiotic resistance in these infections within their countries.
The new WHO guidelines do not recommend fluoroquinolones e.g Ciprofloxacin for the treatment of gonorrhoea due to widespread high levels of resistance. To treat syphilis, the new guidelines strongly recommend a single dose of benzathine penicillin. This is the most effective treatment for syphilis, as it is more effective and cheaper than oral antibiotics.

It is estimated that, each year globally, 131 million people are infected with chlamydia, 78 million with gonorrhoea, and 5.6 million with syphilis. The public is highly encouraged to use condoms to protect themselves from STIs.
If one presents with signs and symptoms of STIs, they are urged to consult with the Doctor who will run appropriate tests to diagnose the disease then treat accordingly. Use of Antibiotics without prescription is highly discouraged as it puts the user at risk.
Be safe, and protect your partner. Do not demand antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription, let alone buying them from the street market! Do not share antibiotics even if you have similar symptoms, it is dangerous!

Retšelisitsoe Nkhahle is Mosotho pharmacist based in Botswana. She is pursuing an Msc.

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