Untreatable Gonorrhea, Essay Example

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Essay

The World Health Organization reports that a sexually transmitted disease, which infects millions of people every year, is now becoming resistant to the drugs that have normally been used to treat this problem. The story was televised on MSNBC as part of their Health segment on June 6, 2012. The disease is gonorrhea and is something the public health sector has dealt with for decades. This time, however, is a bit different and more dangerous.

There was a ‘superbug’ strain of gonorrhea found in Japan in 2008 that was resistant to all antibiotics used to treat it as well as combinations of antibiotics reserved for those with extremely low immune systems. Scientists warned this ‘superbug’ would be easily mutated if it were allowed to continue to spread. Normally the sexually transmitted disease is found and cured without much worry, as long as it is caught in time. However, with the new strain, treatment options could become limited and even impossible.

There are over 106 million people infected every year. If left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in a female and cause issues with fertility and cancer later in life.  Historically, gonorrhea was known as the ‘clap’ and was something military officers caught while overseas during the war. It was and still is normally treated with penicillin as soon as a person becomes aware he or she is a carrier of the disease. It is now the second most common sexually transmitted infection after chlamydia (MSNBC, 2012).

Kate Kelland writes about the same topic in her article posted in the Vancouver Sun (2012). She writes that millions of patients may actually run out of treatment options due to doctors using antibiotic combinations that are not normally used. This will cause antibiotic resistance quicker than normal, especially in the case of a superbug such as this strain of gonorrhea. This could actually cause problems for the HIV/AIDS community as well. Gonorrhea is one of the diseases AIDS patients are more susceptible to catch when their immune systems begin to fail and if there is a superbug that is resistant to basically every drug available, it is only a matter of time before it begins to spread through the HIV/AIDS community and begin wreaking havoc on those who are now actually healthy.

The World Health Organization has had reports of antibiotic drug resistance to cephalosporins, the last treatment of choice in gonorrhea, from several countries: Australia, France, and Norway, to name a few, and is bracing itself for an onslaught of further reports as time progresses (Kelland, 2012).

As for psychological implications, a study was found in a peer reviewed medical journal about the psychological feelings of adolescent girls after experiencing their first episode of a herpes break out. Although the two diseases are different, they are both sexually transmitted and are both diseases which, if left untreated, can cause significant problems with fertility and increase the risks of cancer (Carney, Ross, Bunker, Ikkos, & Mindel, 1994). The study found that the girls who had the first break out felt very negative feelings about themselves and how they contracted the disease. It also found they felt better as time progressed and began to feel more ‘normal’ if no more break outs occurred.

This is understandable because any person who contracts a sexually transmitted disease is naturally going to have negative feelings, thoughts, and most likely will have negative issues if there is a relationship involved. Although the two stories about resistant gonorrhea didn’t go into psychological implications from the disease, it is safe to assume anyone contracting this ‘superbug’ will feel negative thoughts about where he or she contracted it from, if it will ever be able to be cured, whether or not he or she has spread it to anyone else, and whether or not he or she will actually lose their life because of it.

The news pieces reported researched findings and gave seemingly valid statistics about the number of people contracting the disease each year. The number was actually the same between the two reports and often that is not the case. There was not an in depth report on research other than the mention of the last method of treatment, the cephalosporins, but this is most likely because the new pieces were geared for general audiences and not for a strictly scientific community. Overall, I felt both stories were consistent, thorough, and seemingly honest in their delivery of the issue.

One thing to point out when speaking along the lines of psychology is the media’s interest in risqué subjects. There are things sensationalized by the media and shown that could cause harm and psychological damage to many individuals. These are viewed on a daily basis. For instance, MTV aired an episode about gonorrhea in 2011 on one of its reality series and the teenagers and parents basically spoke as if this was nothing more than a problem to be cured by a few pills (Donahoe, 2011).

If I were one of the teens on that program, I would have felt negatively affected by the contraction of a disease, especially from someone I cared about deeply. Even as a viewer, I would have felt a negative reaction to the parent’s seemingly neutral attitude about her child having gonorrhea as if it were a cold and could be cured with a simple remedy. This does nothing for the mental and emotional stability for the participants of those shows (and I am sure most of that is not ‘real’ anyway), but has the potential to cause damage to the emotional lives for many viewers of those shows.

There are many health topics trending in the news today. Some are concentrating on positive aspects such as how we can better ourselves and lead longer and healthier lives. This is a good thing. It gives us a feeling of purpose and motivation. There are also topics such as this, on a sexually transmitted disease, that make us feel saddened and somewhat uncertain about our own health, even if we are sure that we are not one of the statistics.

References

Carney, O., Ross, E., Bunker, C., Ikkos, G., & Mindel, A. (1994). A prospective study of the psychological impact on patients with a first episode of genital herpes. Genitourinary Medicine, 70(1), 40-45.

Donahoe, M. (2011, May 23). I’m thirteen and I have gonorrhea debuts on MTV. Retrieved from The Daily Rash: http://www.thedailyrash.com/im-thirteen-and-i-have-gonorrhea-debuts-on-mtv.

Kelland, K. (2012, June 6). Untreatable gonorrhea spreading around world. Retrieved from The Vancouver Sun: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Untreatable+gonorrhea+spreading+around+world/6741065/story.html.

MSNBC. (2012, June 6). Untreatable gonorrhea spreading worldwide.

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