Hawaii continues to lead U.S. in number of antibiotic-resistant STD cases

Hawaii continues to lead U.S. in number of antibiotic-resistant STD cases

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii has one of the highest rates of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea in the country, according to staff at the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Clinic in Kakaako.

The mutated sexually transmitted disease was first detected in the islands in 2016. And according to Jefferson Remo, the Hawaii health clinic's STD program coordinator — it's becoming increasingly difficult to treat.

"We have a lot of people from southeast Asia who get treated, or they treat themselves with the wrong antibiotics," Remo said. "If you don't finish your antibiotics or if you're taking the wrong ones, what happens is that the bacteria is able to sort of mutate and build resistance."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 30 percent of new gonorrhea infections are resistant to at least one drug.

"It creates a bigger problem of which medicines we are able to use because there is such a limited amount," Remo said.

Hawaii now ranks 14th in the nation for the number of chlamydia infections and reported syphilis cases. With reported cases being two times greater in women than they are in men.

According to Dr. Christina Wang, the highest rates of both gonorrhea and chlamydia are showing up in people between the ages of 15 and 26.

Sexually active people are advised to undergo routine testing every three to six months. Free tests are available at the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center clinic at the corner of Ala Moana and Keawe Street.

"One of the reasons that might be contributing is that we don't have a standardized health curriculum in the state," Dr. Wang said. "It's a challenge because our youth don't actually know the risk that they're putting themselves in."

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