independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Surge in gonorrhoea infections in Ireland

The number of Irish people being diagnosed with gonorrhea has drastically increased, warned the HSE.

The health service today issued a notice, warning of the dangers of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) which has risen by 33% in since 2010.

The Leinster area has been particularly affected by the outbreak, in particular, Dublin.

There have been 1,077 cases in 2013 alone.

A surge in the spread of gonorrhea has become an increasingly common in other countries, particularly in the UK, which has seen a 21% rise in the same length of time.

Young heterosexuals and homosexual males are the two groups at highest risk of infection, according to the study, which was conducted by the HSE South East.

Gonorrhea is transmitted through unprotected sex, including oral sex and can be present without any symptoms.

Director of Public Health in HSE East Dr. Margaret Fitzgerald warned that sexually active individuals should use protection, and emphasised the importance of regular sexual health screenings, as untreated gonorrhea can lead to further complications.

"This upsurge in gonorrhoea is a cause of concern, as untreated or inadequately treated gonorrhoea may lead to severe complications including infertility in men and women," she said.

"Also, emerging antimicrobial resistance is a major concern with gonorrhoea and it is possible that multidrug resistant gonorrhoea may become untreatable in the near future. ’

"We’re also concerned that infection with gonorrhoea may facilitate the transmission/acquisition of HIV, and because many cases are asymptomatic – approx 50% of women and 10% of men with urogenital gonorrhoea have no symptoms – many people may not be aware of their infection or risk’"

"Our ability to test for gonorrhoea has improved in recent years, and more sensitive tests, and more numbers attending for screening may account for some of the increase – however, we know that unsafe sexual behaviour is a significant driver of the increase in cases of Gonorrhoea and other STIs."

The HSE has teamed up with Spunout.ie, Union of Students of Ireland (USI), THINK contraception and the Dublin Aids Alliance in order to raise sexual health awareness, with particular focus on campaigns for 2014.

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