Age Gays

Articles: Medical

JULY 1999: The AIDS Council of NSW and Sydney Area Health Services are urging all sexually active gay men who have multiple sexual partners, whether HIV positive or negative, to be tested every three months for gonorrhoea. “Condoms do not always protect against the disease as it canbe transmitted by a number of sexual practices, including oral sex and fingering”, says Dr Basil Donovan, Director of the Sydney Sexual Health Centre.

Recent statistics show the highest reported rates of gonorrhoea in a decade amongst sexually active gay men in Sydney. There has been on average a 20 per cent increase per year in the number of cases of gonorrhoea in NSW since 1994 to an alarming 1393 cases in 1998.

Of major concern is that a person may have the disease with no symptoms, which means it can be unknowingly passed on to a sexual partner. This is especially the case if the person has rectal and oral gonorrhoea. Of particular concern to HIV positive men is that gonorrhoea considerably increases viral load levels in semen.

“Infection with gonorrhoea has been shown to increase the risk of someone catching or passing on HIV during sexual contact”, says Robert Griew, CEO of ACON. “This is why we need to emphasise the importance of condom use with casual partners. It is not just about HIV but about an individual’s overall sexual health”.Gonorrhoea can be treated in most cases with a single dose of antibiotics. If left untreated gonorrhoea can cause an infection of the testes and in a small number of cases arthritis, heart valve infections and meningitis Regular testing is the most effective way to determine if you have gonorrhoea. If you are a gay man and have multiple sexual partners, it is in your best interest to test for gonorrhoea every three months.