Earlier this week, The Daily Mail ran an article claiming that the newly discovered drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea is worse than AIDS, since they claimed it would be more aggressive, spreading faster and affecting more people.
Well, there’s some good(ish) news: according to physician and Daily Beast columnist Kent Sepkowitz, gonorrhea, no matter how drug resistant, isn’t really worse than AIDS. It’s painful, irritating, infectious and can damage your cardio-respiratory system, but the overall effects are not on par with those of AIDS.
I have been practicing infectious disease since Bush 41 was president, and I have never seen a person die of gonorrhea. Yes, it is an extremely unpleasant and tragic infection that has led to infertility for thousands, perhaps millions of women, and yes, it occasionally though very rarely spills into the blood and can cause infection of the heart valve. But death is almost never on its menu. Oh, sure, of the 820,000 new gonorrhea infections occurring in the United States in 2008, I suspect one or two might have died of the disease. Although the $16 billion-a-year cost of gonorrhea and all the other STDs is frightening, the mortality of this particular bacterial infection is not.
The tl;dr version of that: drug-resistant gonorrhea can potentially kill you, but the fatality rate is nowhere near as bad as AIDS. So in the interim, just be smart and responsible about your sex, whatever that means to you and your own personal sex life.