The other problem with antimicrobial resistance: We don’t know what the words mean

If you don’t understand the term “antimicrobial resistance,” don’t feel bad  —  neither does anybody else. In a commentary & interview this month with the leading science journal Nature, infectious disease specialist Marc Mendelson said the term “antimicrobial resistance” is not understood by the public and should be abandoned, replaced with “drug-resistant infection” and “antibiotic resistance.” Dr. Mendelson:

The studies … highlighted the fact that the main term … that is used … “antimicrobial resistance,” less than 50% of people have heard of the term; that it’s abbreviation which is commonly used, which is AMR, less than 20% have heard of this term; and there’s a complete blank look on people’s faces often when you discuss these terms. So, without understanding of the problem, use of … terminology … that people don’t understand can have serious impact on your ability to try and take the discussions and, more importantly, the actions, further.

This matters because the problem of drug-resistant infections requires more than just scientists to solve. Mendelson: “It requires engagement from a much broader array of players, from governments, regulators and the public, to experts in health, food, the environment, economics, trade and industry. People from these disparate domains are talking past each other. Many of the terms routinely used to describe the problem are misunderstood, interpreted differently or loaded with unhelpful connotations.” Hence the need to get everyone on the same language page.

Mendelson offers a cogent example of the benefit of adopting the right words: The decision to name the cause of AIDS as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 1986  —  instead of human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV-III) or lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV)  —  helped people to understand that the disease was caused by a virus that harms the immune system. “As such,” he says, “it was crucial in tackling stigma and phasing out terms such as ‘the gay plague’, which had previously dominated communication around AIDS.”

The following video was made for the public and nicely explains what a drug-resistant infection/antibiotic resistance is. In brief, it’s a 3-part harmony between the bug, the drug, and you. As bugs like staph aureus or E. coli get increasingly exposed to our drugs (antibiotics) through rampant misuse and overuse, the bugs fight back by successfully resisting the drug’s effect, & thus we stay sick. The media coined the term “superbug” to refer to bugs that have evolved this resistance.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply

Staypressed theme by Themocracy