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Infection advice / Antibiotics and STIs

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. The two most commonly occurring bacterial STIs are chlamydia and gonorrhoea. However, unlike bacterial infections, STIs caused by a virus cannot be treated with antibiotics. These include viral infections such as genital herpes, genital warts and HIV. For these infections there is no cure but they can be suppressed by combinations of antiviral drugs.

If your doctor has prescribed antibiotics for an STI, it is important that you take the antibiotic exactly as prescribed. This includes the correct number of daily doses as well as the correct duration of time, even if you are feeling better. This ensures that all the bacteria are killed.


Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in England, with 206,912 cases reported in 2012, 64% of these occurring in young adults under 25 years old. The Family Planning Association estimates that up to one in 10 sexually active young people have chlamydia. Around 70-80% of women and 50% of men who have the infection do not have any symptoms. It is important to get checked out if you are concerned about chlamydia.

Antibiotics are very effective against chlamydia. The infection is usually treated with azithromycin or doxycycline.

NHS Choices - Chlamydia   


In England, cases of gonorrhoea rose by 21% between 2011 and 2012, with 25,525 new diagnoses in 2012. Gonorrhoea is usually treated with cephalosporins, such as ceftriaxone, however the bacteria that causes gonorrhoea, Neiseria gonorrhoeae, is increasingly becoming resistant to many of the antibiotics used to cure the infection. Already penicillins and tetracyclines can no longer be used to treat gonorrhoea.

A recent report in 2012 found that out of 3103 cases of gonorrhoea, 76% were resistant to tetracyclines, 15% were resistant to penicillin, 25% were resistant to ciprofloxacin, 6% were resistant to cefixime and just 0.2% were resistant to ceftriaxone.

Whilst ceftriaxone may currently be a suitable antibiotic to treat gonorrhoea, the rising number of antibiotic resistant Neiseria gonorrhoeae cases is concerning.

NHS Choices – Gonorrhoea   

Data is taken from the Gonococcal Resistance to Antimicrobials Surveillance Programme (GRASP) 2012 Report.