Gonorrhoea incidence growing in Victoria

A study led by Associate Professor Eric Chow has found a sharp and very concerning rise in the incidence of gonorrhoea in Victoria in the last ten years, and has also identified the groups most affected.

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Gonorrhoea hotspot areas in Melbourne. See interactive graphic from the Victorian government infectious diseases report.

The Age's Melissa Cunningham reports on research led by Associate Professor Eric Chow which maps notified cases of gonorrhoea in Victoria. She writes that, for the first time, the geographical distribution of gonorrhoea has been tracked over a ten year period, "finding growing clusters of the sexually transmitted infection were infiltrating some of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas of Melbourne."

The study describes the geographical distribution of gonorrhoea infection, stratified by gender and population group, in Victoria between 2017 and 2019 using enhanced surveillance data.

They found that over the ten year period, the number of females with gonorrhoea in Victoria who were notified each year to the Victorian Government Department of Health increased by 475%, from 291 to 1,673. The research found, as Cunningham summarises, "that there was the sharpest rise in cases between 2017 and 2019 with 24,825 notified gonorrhoea cases in Victoria, of which one in five were women, 13 per cent were heterosexual males and about 42 per cent were men who had sex with men. It also found rates of infections of the STI [sexually transmitted infection] had more than tripled in the outer suburbs of Melbourne."

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The Age story published 8 March 2022: www.theage.com.au/national/gonorrhoea-epidemic-hits-citys-outer-suburbs-20220302-p5a0vv.html

The study: Chow EPF, Fairley CK, Williamson DA, Chen MY. Spatial mapping of gonorrhoea notifications by sexual practice in Victoria, Australia, 2017-2019. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2021 Dec;45(6):672-674. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.13180. Epub 2021 Nov 11. PMID: 34762335. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1753-6405.13180