Derek Landes and Cale Mitchell both work at Spectrum Health Care here in Columbia. Derek is a prevention educator and health services coordinator and Cale is the executive director.
They spoke about antibiotic resistant STIs and what simple steps people can take to keep themselves and their partners safe. These STIs have not been found in Missouri, but have been seen in some areas around the United States.
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Cale Mitchell: There are cases in other parts of the United States where they're starting to see this epidemic of antibiotic resistant gonorrhea strains. Unfortunately, that is terminal.
So, individuals who end up with that resistant strain die – essentially, you become septic. Your system becomes so over populated with the bacteria that your body can't function any longer. So, you just fill up with bacteria and your body can't cope.
Derek Landes: And that's one that people are really freaking out about right now. Like I said, we're not seeing it here specifically, and it seems like most of the research is right now more geared towards developing a vaccine.
It's more on the preventative side. We're trying to prevent it.
Cale: It’s the same methodology as a standard gonorrhea infection – exchange of body fluids. Enters into the system and gonorrhea and chlamydia aren't picky about their entry point. All they need is mucous membranes, so – eyes, throat, nasal cavity, rectum, vagina, urethra – all of those places have very similar tissue and moisture level, and so, if it can get in there and set up shop, it will.
Derek: I think that that's something that we're talking about, as well, because a lot of people don't think about it in the same way.
You know, at this point, most people we communicate with and work with – whether they do it or not – understand that they should use some preventative or barrier method for penetrative sex. Most people understand that, at least.
But very few people think about that with oral sex. Most people can tell you where to find the condoms and Walmart, but if you ask someone to point out a dental dam, they’ll ask what that is.
Derek: And so, we don't see a lot of people utilizing prevention methodology for oral sex, and so I think that that plays a decent role in why we see such high transmission of gonorrhea and chlamydia, as well.
Cale: Don't let fear be the barrier. Testing is simple. It is low cost. If you go to most health departments, if you come here, there's going to be, it's going to be $20 or less. Here, we're not going to force you to pay, so if you just really have inability to pay, we're going to work that out. But if you're sexually active do something to protect you and your partners.
Derek: Not only get tested, but have the talk. Right? Talk to… this needs to be a conversation you have. Talk to your partners. Have the conversation. And if you're, if you're struggling to do so, and you're not sure what you need to say, or how to say it, then give us a call. Right? That’s what we’re here for.