Gippsland’s gonorrhoea cases up 20 per cent

Warning: This article contains content of a sexual nature

GIPPSLAND saw its highest number of gonorrhoea cases in 2023, jumping almost 20 per cent on previous years.

“We know that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea are much more widespread in the community than many people might assume,” Gippsland Region Public Health Unit (GRPHU), Senior Epidemiologist, Katie Walker said.

“Data from the Department of Health and Aged Care shows that one in six Australians will develop an STI at some stage in their lifetime.

“Together with infections like chlamydia and syphilis we see more than 950 STIs each year on average in Gippsland.”

GRPHU Acting Director, Dr Alyce Wilson is encouraging anyone who is sexually active to get tested for STIs regularly.

“People with multiple sexual partners should be tested more often, especially as STIs can show no symptoms,” she said.

Sixty one per cent of gonorrhoea cases in the Gippsland region in 2023 were recorded in men.

Men aged between 20 and 34 recorded the highest number of cases.

“The high-risk groups for gonorrhoea in Gippsland, are men who have sex with men as well as any woman who might have sex with that man. We’d recommend a visit to their GP or a Sexual Health Clinic and get tested. It’s better to know if you are infected,” Dr Wilson said.

Someone infected with gonorrhoea may not show any symptoms, but if they are symptomatic, they may see discharge form the vagina or penis, a burning sensation on passing urine, pelvic pain, especially during sex for women and painful or swollen testicles for men.

While gonorrhoea cases have certainly jumped in 2023, the STI with the highest number of notifications in Gippsland is in fact chlamydia.

Like with gonorrhoea, chlamydia can be symptom-less, with people having no idea they are infected.

It is estimated as many as 70 per cent of cases may be asymptomatic, and therefore not detected without regular STI screening.

“Chlamydia is called the ‘silent infection’ and if not treated properly, can cause serious long-term complications including ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women,” Dr Wilson said.

“We need to speak more about chlamydia testing and treatment to avoid leaving people undiagnosed and thus untreated. We would encourage all sexually active people speak to their GP about chlamydia and other STIs either next time they have an appointment or if they are concerned, through a separate appointment.”

Symptoms of chlamydia may include abdominal cramps, pain on passing urine and bleeding between regular periods for women and discharge from the penis, pain on passing urine and swollen and sore testicles for men.

Diagnosis and treatment for STIs like gonorrhoea and chlamydia are easily managed.

“The GP will take a urine sample or a swab and then treat with antibiotics if needed, symptoms will normally ease within days,” Dr Wilson said.

More information about gonorrhoea and chlamydia can be found on the Latrobe Regional Health website.