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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Epidemiology of gonorrhoea notifications in Australia, 2007–12

April Roberts-Witteveen A H , Kate Pennington B , Nasra Higgins C , Carolyn Lang D , Monica Lahra E , Russell Waddell F and John Kaldor G
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A ACT Health, Population Health, Locked Bag 5005, Weston Creek, ACT 2611, Australia.

B Department of Health, Office of Health Protection, GPO Box 9848, ACT 2601, Australia.

C Victorian Government, Department of Health, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

D Department of Health, Queensland, PO Box 48, Brisbane, Qld 4000, Australia.

E South Eastern Area Laboratory Services, The Prince of Wales Hospital, WHO Collaborating Centre for STD and Neisseria Reference Laboratory, High Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia.

F SA Health, Communicable Disease Control Branch, PO Box 6, Rundle Mall, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

G Kirby Institute, Wallace Wurth Building, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

H Corresponding author. Email: april.witteveen@act.gov.au

Sexual Health 11(4) 324-331 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH13205
Submitted: 30 January 2014  Accepted: 12 June 2104   Published: 21 August 2014

Abstract

Background: An increase in the notification rate of gonorrhoea was observed in the national surveillance system. In Australia, gonorrhoea is relatively rare, apart from among some populations of Aboriginal people and men who have sex with men. Methods: Data about gonorrhoea cases reported between 2007 and 2012 from all Australian jurisdictions were extracted from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Analyses were undertaken of the time trends in counts and rates, according to jurisdiction, gender, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, diagnosis method and sexual orientation. Results: The largest increase in notifications between 2007 and 2012 was observed in both men and women in New South Wales (2.9- and 3.7-fold greater in 2012 than 2007, respectively) and Victoria (2.4- and 2.7-fold greater in 2012 than 2007, respectively), men in the Australian Capital Territory and women in Queensland. The highest notification rates remained in Indigenous people in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, and particularly in women, although rates may have decreased over the study period. Changes in age and sex distribution, antimicrobial resistance and patterns of exposure and acquisition were negligible. Conclusions: There is an ongoing gonorrhoea epidemic affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, but the increases in notifications have occurred primarily in non-Aboriginal populations in the larger jurisdictions. Interpretation of these surveillance data, especially in relation to changes in population subgroups, would be enhanced by laboratory testing data. Further efforts are needed to decrease infection rates in populations at highest risk.

Additional keywords: Aboriginal, incidence, Indigenous, men who have sex with men, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, prevalence.


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