20 December 2016

Rise in gonorrhoea rates prompts fresh health warning

WA Health is reminding people about the importance of safe sex following an alarming rise in gonorrhoea cases in Perth during the past year.

Over the past 12 months, gonorrhoea notifications across the metropolitan area have surged by 53 per cent, increasing from 1320 cases in 2014-15 to 2022 in 2015-16.

Department of Health Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Manager Lisa Bastian said the recent increase in gonorrhoea notifications showed that the safe sex message was not being heard.

“Alarmingly, there has been a 74 per cent increase in gonorrhoea infections among heterosexual females, up to 607 from 348 the previous year,” Ms Bastian said.

“Gonorrhoea often will not have any symptoms, so it is crucial that anyone who has had unsafe sex visits their doctor or sexual health clinic for an STI test.

“Gonorrhoea does not discriminate, and it’s important than anyone who has new, casual or regular sexual partners, ensures they use protection when they have sex.”

Ms Bastian said the Department of Health would launch a public health campaign, aimed at reducing gonorrhoea rates, in early 2017.

“This campaign will include the use of social media, as this is one of the most effective communication channels for this age group,” Ms Bastian said.

Annual gonorrhoea notifications in the Perth metropolitan area have more than tripled over the past five years (from 649 to 2022 cases).

The number of notifications in heterosexual men also increased by 53 per cent over a 12-month period (652 compared to 425), while notifications in men who have sex with men increased by 23 per cent (491 compared to 400).

For more information on STIs, including how to get tested, see www.couldihaveit.com.au (external website)

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