BASHH calls for coordinated response to restrain further spread of azithromycin resistant gonorrhoea

18th April 2016

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) calls for a rapid and coordinated public health response in the light of new evidence from Public Health England (PHE) showing that new diagnoses of high level azithromycin resistant gonorrhoea (HL-AziR) have spread across parts of England.

Following an initial HL-AziR outbreak during 2015 affecting individuals in Leeds and parts of northern England, new evidence detailed in PHE’s latest Health Protection Report demonstrates that HL-AziR has since spread to the West Midlands and southern England, including London. The report also shows that in contrast to the previous outbreak, HL-AziR is now spreading amongst men who have sex with men. Thirty four cases have been diagnosed across England.

To prevent further dissemination of HL-AziR, PHE is leading a national incident response, with support from BASHH, and local work with enhanced data collection and interventions, as well as communications to raise awareness among the communities affected.

Commenting on the spread of azithromycin resistant gonorrhoea, Dr Elizabeth Carlin, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said:

The spread of high level azithromycin-resistant gonorrhea is a huge concern and it is essential that every effort is made to contain further spread. It is important that we draw upon the lessons learned from the initial outbreak in Leeds and ensure that rigorous partner notification measures, tests of cure, responsible antibiotic prescribing and the promotion of safe sex messages are all in place.

Failure to respond appropriately will jeopardise our ability to treat gonorrhoea effectively and will lead to poorer health outcomes for individuals and society as a whole.

BASHH reiterates the importance of providing appropriate funding for sexual health services to enable them to deliver not only preventative public health functions, but also the specialist clinical components which are crucial to halting the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Elizabeth Carlin, BASHH President

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