Still Burning

Friday, September 16, 2011

Question

I guess I was getting too much sex. My jealous roommates thought it would be funny to put pin holes in my condoms. (They confessed when I had that lovely burning sensation when I pissed and screamed my head off.) I figured I knew what it was, so I headed down to the VD clinic, expecting a shot or a couple of pills. Sure enough, I have gonorrhea. But it is resisting treatment. Thanks a lot! I'd like to look for a new place to live, but I am attached to an IV drip of killer meds with shitty side effects. Literally. The doctor at the public health clinic said this is happening because antibiotics were over-prescribed, and all microorganisms develop a tolerance for antibiotics. Are all sexually-transmitted infections going to become resistant to treatment?

Answer

There have only been a few decades in the epic of our species when we could relax about unwanted pregnancy or sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). A combination of latex barriers, the birth control pill, and antibiotics set the stage for a sexual revolution of grand and overdue proportions. We got used to these privileges in a hurry, and now most of us act like this was always the status quo—a heritage we are entitled to enjoy. This is why couples who are HIV-negative want to throw away the condoms and other barriers. HIV-positive gay men figure they would rather trick exclusively with each other than use condoms. But HIV/AIDS is not the only STI out there. This virus isn't even the most contagious STI! Hepatitis, herpes, genital and anal warts, chlamydia, various vaginal infections, intestinal parasites—I feel like I could recite this list in my sleep.

What's happening to you is pretty bad. Did your jackass roommates ever stop to think that they might damage someone else by causing one of your female partners to get pregnant? No, probably not. And this is why I often want to shake straight men till their teeth rattle, then go get my sex change reversed. (That's a joke!) Clearly, you can't trust these people. If they are too stupid or rash to see the potential consequences of this prank, what else are they doing for fun? Derailing trains full of nuclear waste? If you are too sick to move on your own, enlist a friend to help you. In the future, keep your condom supply under lock and key or pick up fresh goods on your way home with a lucky date.

You asked if all STIs are going to become resistant to treatment. The sad fact is that many of them can't be treated today (and never could) because antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Hepatitis and genital/anal warts are in this category. Conditions that spread with skin-to-skin contact (like herpes, warts, hepatitis B, or first-stage syphilis) are going to spread unless your barrier of choice covers the site of the original infection. A lot of money is being thrown at developing the next generation of disease-fighting medications. Let's all hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

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