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Are we facing a potential gonorrhoea epidemic?

January 17, 2020

I’m Associate Professor David Whiley, I’m
a principle research fellow here at UQCCR. If you actually look at gonorrhoea in Australia
as a whole, typically we have sort of two main epidemics, one in men who have sex with
men in urban areas, and unfortunately, those guys have a whole range of STI’s to worry
about, but equally in Indigenous communities particularly in remote setting, that’s where
we also have very high rates of gonorhhoea and certainly other STI’s as well. Unfortunately, if we look at gonorrhoea on
a global scale, there’s been a range of different drugs used, different doses, and its basically
been the perfect breeding ground for resistance. Prior to the 1980’s, we did have extremely
high levels of gonorrhoea, and certainly once the old HIV scare campaigns actually came
through, we saw a massive drop, and basically, you know, everyone was using a condom because
they were all scared of HIV, and so gonorrhoea rates basically dropped through the floor. What we’ve actually seen, progressively since
then, is rates have started to increase, its not just gonorrhoea, its actually chlamydia
as well, but particularly in the last few years, we’ve really seen this escalation. The most probably scary thing is in the last,
say, year or so, we’re now getting up to rates that are similar to the pre-1980’s, so clearly
something is going on, we’re not 100% whats driving it, but its almost certainly behavioral. People, they’re no longer scared of HIV and
they’re much more happy, unfortunately, to practice unsafe sex.

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