Faced with a six-year high in gonorrhoea infections attributed to sex between men, the NSW gay men’s health team have a simple message for Same Same readers.
“The more cocks you suck, the more tests you need.”
“Gonorrhoea is on the rise across NSW with a concentration of cases in inner Sydney, and rises are also occurring nationally and in gay communities throughout the world,” explains Geoff Honnor, ACON’s Director of HIV/Sexual Health.
Rates of new cases of the infection have been climbing steeply for some time. It’s easy to catch and easy to treat.
“It’s a bacterial infection, easily passed from dick to mouth or arse and vice versa,” says Honnor. “Condoms provide the most effective protection against gonorrhoea during anal sex, adding weight to the overarching case for using condoms for all episodes of anal sex, with casual partners of unknown HIV status. It’s also relevant that the presence of STIs can increase the risk of HIV transmission.”
The best known symptoms are associated with urethral (dick) infection – the feeling of burning while pissing and yellowish discharge from the dick. These appear around 2-10 days after exposure, however as with most STIs, gonorrhoea can also have minimal or no symptoms at all, especially in the case of throat or arse infection.
So regular testing is essential. “Every sexually active gay guy should be testing for HIV and STIs at least once a year and more frequently, if he’s been busy,” reminds Honnor.
Sexual Health specialist physician Dr Chris Bourne says gonorrhoea testing and treatment is straightforward.
“Infection is detected with throat and arse swabs, plus a dick swab if you have symptoms there,” Dr Bourne said. “Treatment is usually one shot of antibiotics.”
“There’s certainly growing international concern about antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhoea, but treatment in Australia remains effective for now.
Honnor adds: “Finding and treating gonorrhoea before it’s transmitted to other men will reduce the spread in the community – and we can reduce the spread.”
STIGMA and ACON urge all sexually active gay men in NSW to see their GP or visit a sexual health clinic to be tested for gonorrhoea and other STIs and HIV, as soon as possible. Don’t wait for symptoms. Testing and treatment is quick and simple. Act now.