10 Jun 2015

Research: Gonorrhoea, MSM and untreated asymptomatic infection

Gonorrhoea bacteria. Joe Millar/CDC
Despite early treatment of urethral infection, gonorrhoea is endemic in urban populations of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Australia. By contrast, gonorrhoea is not common in urban heterosexual populations. Sexual activities among MSM usually involve anal or oral sex, and as these behaviours are becoming increasingly common among heterosexuals, there is a need to investigate their roles in transmission of gonorrhoea.
The models described in this paper suggest that oral sex has an important role in sustaining gonorrhoea in a population of MSM by providing a pool of untreated asymptomatic infection. The importance of anal sex or oral sex in sustaining gonorrhoea in a heterosexual population remains uncertain due to the lack of information linking different types of sex acts and transmissibility.

Reference: Hui, B., Fairley, C.K., Chen, M., Grulich, A., Hocking, J., Prestage, G., Walker, S., Law, M., Regan, D. Oral and anal sex are key to sustaining gonorrhoea at endemic levels in MSM populations: a mathematical model. Sex Transm Infect. 2015 Jan 16. pii: sextrans-2014-051760. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2014-051760. [Epub ahead of print]
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