As lots of college students are in the middle of the semester, this is as good a time as any for a reminder. STIs are now among the ranks of treatment-resistant, or even treatment-immune, bacteria. Rates of STIs in general are on the rise, making this a particularly risky time for the long-term effectiveness of our treatments to be in question.
Mycoplasma genitalium, or MG, is an up-and-coming STI that, according to experts, has the potential to become one of the many diseases that actively resists our currently available pharmaceutical solutions.
So What Is Mycoplasma Genitalium?
Researchers first observed MG back in the 1980s, but since then, it has flown under the radar, infecting only about 1 to 2 percent of any given population. MG has never been a mainstream worry or a household name the way many other STIs have come to be. And, like many sexually transmitted infections, people who have MG won’t necessarily know they have it, nor will they display any obvious symptoms.
When signs do present themselves, men and women often experience inflammation, bleeding and fevers. The condition can render women infertile if it goes untreated.
Unfortunately, MG symptoms tend to be similar to other common STIs, like chlamydia, which can complicate diagnosis and treatment efforts even further.
It’s A Perfect Storm
According to experts, rates of STI infections in the US and elsewhere are at an all-time high. Dealing with treatment-resistant diseases was a sizable challenge already. Escalating worry over MG’s long-term treatability with concern over STI rates in general has made for a challenging set of circumstances for medical professionals and epidemiologists. MG is demonstrating serious resistance to first- and second-line antibiotics.
All this comes at a bad time for returning and first-time college students. College students already deal with a ton of mild to serious potential health problems as they navigate classes, extracurriculars, career networking, socializing and sexual activities.
Since individuals ages 14-25 are seeing some of the most dramatic rates of STI infections, and because STIs are some of the most present dangers when it comes to drug-resistant superbugs, many are calling for better formal sex education, even in college classrooms.
The medical and pharmaceutical communities are also hard at work on the problem, but experts generally expect new antibiotics are several years away, at best, based on the present speed of the research.
What Can We Do?
Doctors are warning people to be tested for MG if we don’t want it to develop into a full-blown superbug.
It’s also well-known that abstinence-only sex education tends to be inadequate for preparing students for the realities of STIs. This fact appears lost on the United States’ educational and political institutions, who continued their rightward drift in 2016 by earmarking $85 million per year for abstinence-based sex education.
The miracles of modern pharmaceutical research will hopefully find a way to combat this issue someday. Until then, good judgment is the one safety net we have left, and that is best inspired through less conservative, more comprehensive sexual education. Make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and have safe sex! One of the most important things you can do for yourself amidst the stress of the school year is prioritize your health and safety.
Featured image by rawpixel from Unsplash.