Rising STI Trends & Diagnostic Advances

In 2021, Gonorrhea, a leading sexually transmitted infection (STI), witnessed a 4.6% surge with 710,000 reported cases, accumulating to a striking 118% increase since 2009, as revealed by the CDC.

While concerns about antibiotic resistance loom, especially with half of the infections showing resistance, there’s a silver lining. Barbara Van Der Pol, a distinguished professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and head of the International Society for STD Research, assures that resistance to one antibiotic doesn’t spell total untreatability. As per the 2021 CDC data, only a fraction (0.2%) of cases demanded multiple antimicrobials for treatment. A breakthrough was witnessed when a drug-resistant strain discovered in Massachusetts responded positively to the standard treatment, ceftriaxone.

Given these dynamics, clinical diagnostic assay developers, like Montfort Laboratories, stand at the frontline. Van Der Pol accentuates the urgency for advanced diagnostic tools to spot markers of drug-resistant gonorrhea. This advancement would rejuvenate older treatments, cutting down the dependency on culture isolates and specialized labs. Nevertheless, the journey to next-gen diagnostics is paved with intricate clinical trials and substantial investments.

Another STI worth noting is Mycoplasma genitalium. Its potential links with pre-term birth and infertility raise concerns, even if its prevalence (1.7% among US individuals aged 14-59) is comparatively lower. Despite its association with other STIs, the clinical response to its detection remains nebulous, mainly due to limited research on asymptomatic infections.

The COVID-19 era ushered in a wave of at-home testing, providing users a blend of convenience and immediacy. Companies like Visby Medical have earned FDA nods for their quick and precise tests for STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. While these developments are promising, hurdles like high costs, digital divides, and housing uncertainties persist, limiting the outreach of these direct-to-consumer tests.

In sum, while drug-resistant gonorrhea captures global attention, it’s pivotal to recognize that treatments like cephalosporins continue to demonstrate efficacy. The CDC affirms its success in managing these infections in the US context.

REFERENCES

  1. Are Sexually Transmitted Infections Becoming More Dangerous? – Clinical Laboratory News, JUL.1.2023.