Cases of gonorrhoea treatment resistance fell slightly last year - the first time this has occurred in five years.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed that during the year, 93% of gonorrhoea patients were administered ceftriaxone first-line treatment as recommended by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV.
It also emerged that the drift towards potential ceftriaxone treatment resistance witnessed in the last few years has reversed and resistance to azithromycin remained constant at 0.5%.
The HPA also discovered that resistance risk to second line of defence treatment cefixime fell in 2011. This is the first time since 2007 that this has been the case.
It emerged that the risk of resistance to all three antibiotics was greater in men who engaged in sexual activity with other men.
Although resistance to gonorrhoea treatment is seemingly on the wane, nurses and other healthcare workers might want to continue their efforts to encourage their patients to practise safe sex as new diagnoses of gonorrhoea rose 25% to nearly 21,000 cases.
Of the gonorrhoea cases examined for this study, it emerged that almost a third of cases were repeat ones and another third were diagnosed alongside another sexually transmitted infection.
Professor Cathy Ison, leading the HPA gonorrhoea resistance surveillance programme, said: “It is more important than ever we diagnose gonorrhoea promptly, adhere to treatment guidelines and identify and manage any cases of potential treatment failure effectively. If not, the threat of untreatable gonorrhoea in the future is very real.”