If you're spending Valentine's Day alone, here's something comforting: At least you won't catch a case of super gonorrhea. According to a CDC report, cephalsporins – the antibiotics used to treat gonorrhea — are becoming less and less effective. Cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea is apparently already an issue in Spain, Japan, and France, and, if the current trend continues, could soon become a problem in the U.S.
"The continued threat of multidrug-resistant gonorrhea makes protecting against [gonorrhea] more important than before," said Dr. Lindsey Satterwhite, an epidemiologist in the CDC's Division of STD Prevention.
As things stand now, there are over 300,000 cases of gonorrhea reported each year, and it's the second most common reported STD in the U.S. The problem could grow worse since, according to the report, not enough new drugs are in development to compensate for the older drugs' increasing ineffectiveness.
And if that's not fun worrisome enough, the CDC is also reporting an ongoing epidemic of STDs in this country. There are 110 million total STD diagnoses in the U.S. and roughly 20 million new ones each year, with the most frequent being HPV. Overall the diseases cost $16 billion a year to treat in the U.S.
Young people, ages 15-24, account for half the annual cases of infections, a number experts blame on lack of insurance and access to health care.
"We've seen a disproportionate burden for quite a while," [CDC epidemiologist] Satterwhite said in a telephone interview. "Young women in particular are at greater risk."
As for how to prevent super gonorrhea and STDs in general? You have a few options, according to Dr. Satterwhite, the first study's author: "Wear a condom correctly, think about abstinence, practice monogamy, and get appropriate screening if you're high risk," she said
So basically: wear a condom and get regular tests, if you're not in a serious relationship.