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Gonorrhea On The Rise In Australia

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Gonorrhea has seen a rapid spike in Australia, jumping to 63% in the past five years, according to a new study.

Researchers say that this increase is primarily due to more cases among young heterosexual people in urban areas of the country. However, the reasons behind the sudden rise remain unclear, the BBC reports.

It could be changes in sexual behaviors or a more resistant strain of the infection causing the spread of gonorrhea, the researchers said. The infection affects the genitals, rectum and throat, but is treatable with antibiotics.

Rebecca Guy, associate professor at the University of New South Wales and co-author on the study, said,

Up until recently, gonorrhea had been uncommon in young heterosexual people living in major cities. Rising rates in this group highlight the need for initiatives to raise awareness among clinicians and young people about the importance of testing.

The Kirby Institute released an annual report on Australia’s sexual health on Monday. It found that other sexually transmissible infections (STIs), like syphilis, has also seen growing numbers, specifically among indigenous Australians. Chlamydia was the most common STI recorded, with close to 72,000 cases in 2016 alone, 75% of whom were in people ages 15-29.

The number of confirmed HIV cases, meanwhile, has remained steady over five years at around 1,000 diagnoses.

From 2012 to 2016, gonorrhea cases went from 62 per 100,000 people to 101 per 100,000. The rates were more alarming for men, at 72%, while it was 43% for women. The report “suggests increasing transmission through heterosexual sex.”

The biggest increase was in males between 25-29 years old, and females from 20-24 years old. The majority of the cases involve men. In 2016, close to three-quarters of the 24,000 gonorrhea cases were male patients.

The World Health Organization issued a warning earlier in the year that gonorrhea is one of the most dangerous infections, as it is rapidly developing a resistance to antibiotics.

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