The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has voted to renew a $434,000 study of hard-to-cure STD’s using state funds.

The money behind the study isn’t local taxpayer money, but county officials say that advances being made due to the study could help those everywhere who suffer from increasingly common “antimicrobial resistant gonorrhea” and similar ailments.

According to Guilford County Health Director Merle Green, the goal of the ongoing study is to find cures.

“We are researching drug resistant gonorrhea,” Green said of the nearly half-million dollar contract with Wake Forest Health Systems.

The county and Wake Forest began this collaboration in December 2016 since Guilford County was in need of staff and testing facilities to address the issue, Wake Forest was in need of data and the state had the money available from the federal government for this purpose.

“This started under our previous medical director,” Green said, referencing Dr. Laura Bachman. “The scientists have found that some patients are not responding to – being cured by – the traditional medications for treating gonorrhea, so this study was commissioned by the US Centers for Disease Control to try to identify the ‘strains’ of the disease that are not responding to the treatment.”

Green added that the next step is for the researchers and others in the medical community is to use the data to develop new medications to cure the resistant gonorrhea.

At the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Thursday, June 6 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to continue the county’s collaboration with Wake Forest since both parties are finding it beneficial.  The newly approved contract ends on May 31, 2020 – however, the relationship could continue after that if state money for the research remains available in 2020-2021.

Under the contract, Wake Forest Health Systems will, in fiscal 2019-2020, provide the project with a director, an epidemiologist, a registered nurse, a laboratory technologist and a lab supervisor as well as consultation staff and services.

As compensation, Guilford County will pay Wake Forest up to $434,000 over the next year.  That funding comes from the NC Department of Health and Human Services out of federal money earmarked for epidemiology and communicable disease advances.

This contract amount, at just under $434,000 represents an increase of $68,000 over last year.

This will be the fourth year of funding, and county medical officials say that the results so far have been “promising.”

Either the county or Wake Forest can terminate the contract for any reason, without penalty, as long as they give 30 days notice to the other party.