Antibiotics play a fundamental role in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections. Many centres have their own guidelines, based on resistance patterns seen within the local population, and these guidelines are constantly evolving. There have recently been reports of resistance developing in some populations: for example, to the use of ciprofloxacin in gonorrhoea treatment. GRASP data are collected at a national level to monitor all microbiology samples for trends in the development of drug resistance, seeking to ensure that suboptimal therapy is not being prescribed for gonorrhoea. It is important that, where possible, the choice of treatment for infections is based on individual sensitivities, with consideration also given to local resistance patterns.

Within the genito-urinary medical (GUM) setting, many antibiotics are prescribed as single-dose therapy. The main advantages of this are (a) that it is convenient for the patient and that (b) they can be observed taking their therapy, so that the practitioner can be sure that they have been treated. However, giving higher, single doses may cause more adverse effects and can also potentially have a reduced efficacy in some situations.

Antibiotics can be either bacteriostatic (when the replication of bacterial cells is prevented) or bactericidal (when bacterial cells are killed).


Penicillins belong to the beta-lactam family of antibiotics.

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