Gonorrhoea cases at four year high among gay men in Sydney

DDU_budgie_smugglerSince 2011 gonorrhoea notifications among gay men in inner city Sydney have increased significantly and are now at a four year high, according to recent NSW public health surveillance data.

“The continuing high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in inner-Sydney remain concerning, especially the significant increases in gonorrhoea when you compare notification rates over the last few years,” says ACON’s Director, HIV and Sexual Health and Chair of STIGMA* Karen Price.

“While we acknowledge the great commitment many gay men demonstrate in looking after their sexual health, it’s essential for gay men to get tested regularly,” Ms Price says.

“Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection passed from penis to mouth or anus that can be easily treated. Condoms provide the most effective protection against gonorrhoea during anal sex. It’s also important for gay men to understand that the presence of STIs like gonorrhoea can increase the risk of HIV transmission.

“Regular HIV and STI testing remains an essential component of improving health, wellbeing and efforts to end HIV transmission among gay men. Every sexually active gay man should be tested for HIV and STIs at least twice a year and more frequently if needed.

“With new rapid HIV testing clinics opening up – including a new ACON a[TEST] facility at 167 Oxford St in Darlinghurst – testing is quick, easy and free. We would encourage all gay men, regardless of whether they have any symptoms, to get a complete sexual health screen.”

Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection that lives in the penis, arse or throat. Since 2011, there has been a significant increase in gonorrhoea infections in gay communities across NSW. In men, gonorrhoea is mainly transmitted through oral or anal sex. Touching an infected area and then touching your own penis or anus can also transmit gonorrhoea.

Many people who have gonorrhoea aren’t aware they have it, particularly if they have it in the throat or anus. If you are going to get symptoms, most commonly in your penis, you may have a clear or yellow milky discharge and a stinging pain when urinating.

Gonorrhoea can be detected by a urine test plus swabs from the anus and throat and is easily treated with antibiotics. If you have been infected with gonorrhoea, it’s really important to avoid any sex that might spread the infection until you have been given the all-clear from your doctor.

For more information on gonorrhoea and other STIs, visit the Drama Down Under website: www.thedramadownunder.info for details.

Image: courtesy of Drama Down Under