Rates of drug-resistant gonorrhea, once on the rise, have fallen significantly in the United States over the past few years, aidsmap reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which attributes the turn-around to two revisions the agency made to gonorrhea treatment guidelines in 2010 and 2012, presented these findings at the U.S. 2014 STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta.

Between 2006 and 2010, the rate at which gonorrhea cases were resistant to the antibiotic cefixime increased from less than 0.1 percent to 1.4 percent. The recommended treatment during that period was either an oral dose of cefixime or an intramuscular dose of ceftriaxone. In December 2010, to combat drug resistance, the CDC changed its recommended treatment protocol to a double dose of intramuscular ceftriaxone or, alternatively, cefixime plus either azithromycin or doxycycline. Because drug resistance rates did not subsequently ebb, the CDC then made another shift in August 2012, recommending double-dose injected ceftriaxone with azithromycin or doxycycline.

This shift, along with better adherence among STI clinics to gonorrhea treatment regimens, seems to have succeeded in fighting back a the drug-resistant tide.

Between 2011 and 2012, the rate of cefixime-resistant gonorrhea dropped from 1.4 percent to 0.9 percent, and then to 0.4 percent in 2013. The rates dropped the most dramatically among gay men: from 4 percent in 2010 to 0.6 percent in 2013. In 2011 ceftriaxone resistance stood at 0.38 percent among all Americans and 0.95 percent among gays; these figures then dropped to a respective 0.03 percent and 0.07 percent by 2013.

The CDC cautions that, while these figures may be cause for celebration, gonorrhea has still developed resistance to all arsenals used to combat the infection through history. “The potential that gonorrhea could become untreatable remains real,” the agency states as it promotes both the development of new treatments as well as improved prevention.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.