Campaign warns of dangers of gonorrhoea as cases rise by 33%
Men were five times more likely to contract the disease, and slightly over half of the cases reported were men who had sex with men. Photograph: Getty Images
An information campaign warning of the dangers of gonorrhoea is being developed for gay men and young heterosexuals in response to an alarming rise in the incidence of the disease.
Health professionals say the increase in gonorrhoea cases in the Dublin area and the southeast is a cause of concern. The number of people diagnosed with the sexually transmitted disease grew by 33 per cent between 2011 and 2012, and the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre says the trend has continued into this year.
The centre says it is particularly concerned at the growth in cases in the HSE’s eastern region, where cases have doubled in two years.
In response, public health officials in the HSE set up a gonorrhoea control group last year to investigate the trend and develop ways of countering it. The group’s work focused on the Dublin area but was expanded to include the southeast due to a rise in cases there in the first two months of this year.
The group looked at more than 200 cases reported in the two areas in the first quarter of the year. This revealed the average age of those presenting as 26 years, with men more than five times more likely to contract the disease. Slightly over half the cases were men who had sex with men (MSM), 44 per cent were male heterosexuals and 16 per cent were female heterosexuals.
Most of MSM cases were in the eastern region and almost half involved people born outside Ireland, notably central or eastern Europe and Latin America. Three-quarters were in people aged 25 and older, and 13 per cent were HIV-positive.
The heterosexual cases were significantly younger and mostly among people aged under 25. Specialists say such occurrences were higher than anticipated.