Recent news reports suggest that gonorrhea is leaving its temporary-STD friends and joining the ranks of the truly terrifying. The CDC has announced the discovery of a antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea strain that has bypassed every drug they’ve thrown at it so far. Typically, cephalosporin antibiotics are the last line of defense against the disease, but even these drugs are no longer working. The antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea has been identified in places like Japan, Sweden, Australia, and other first-world nations where treatment options are more widely available. In third-world nations, the disease will have even more serious health implications and achieve an even faster spread. Scientists are working frantically to try and combat the disease before it turns into a world health disaster.
There are two categories of STD: the curable and the incurable. The curable ones are still gross, don’t get me wrong. (Nobody wants to deal with small crotch crustaceans singing “Under the Sea” in their underpants, syphilis can melt your brain, and chlamydia and gonorrhea both have a list of symptoms that generally involve some serious ick-factor that basically amounts to pink eye of your vagina: itching, burning, crusting, oozing.) But those have always been less frightening than the incurable, because a couple doses of antibiotics and/or some pube shampoo and you’re on your way to a squeaky-clean record, having learned a valuable lesson about sleeping with large numbers of frat boys.
The incurable STDs, however, are terrifying. AIDS means explaining to your family and friends that you might have a very short life span, though recent medical advancements have prolonged the lives of those living with the virus. Herpes means announcing to your partner-to-be that you’ve got an incredibly contagious set of open sores on what should be a sacred vicinity of beauty and…not sores, and would they still like to have intercourse with you anyway? HPV means either warts or cervical cancer, or both, which can be life-threatening or disfiguring. The incurable, though, has remained a pretty set group of threat-down agents since the early 80s.
What does this antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea mean to you? Well, it means you need to be extra-careful who you’re sleeping with, for one.
I am married, and even as a married woman, I have always requested an STD screening panel with my yearly exam. My motto is “trust no-one but yourself.” I like the peace of mind that comes with a negative test result more than I like the peace of mind that comes with trusting the universe and your partner. It’s not religion– faith isn’t required. Go ahead and let science reassure you that you’re clean, that everything’s normal, and that there wasn’t some freak dormant strain lurking in your spinal column from that ONE TIME that you made a poor choice in your early twenties.
It also means that if you’re not in a committed, protected, monogamous relationship, you need to use condoms. You love your new partner and see a future together and want to switch to the pill or another method of non-barrier protection? Ask to see your partner’s recent lab results. They’re easy to get from the doctor, and they will reassure both of you that you’re not infecting yourself or someone else. If you’re not ready to say “lemme see your crotch labs,” then you’re probably not ready to throw those Trojans away. Baby steps.
I guess I’ll give a grudging round of applause for The Clap, too. BRAVA FOR EVOLUTION! I mean, it takes courage to adapt and fight to survive and….no…it’s just too gross. I’m going to skip the applause and go make myself some panties out of Saran Wrap. CONSTANT VIGILANCE.