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Gonorrhoea cases at an all-time high in Northern Ireland

Cases of gonorrhoea are up one third in Northern Ireland, with over 450 people diagnosed with the disease.

Image: Vasaleks via Shutterstock.com

THE PUBLIC HEALTH Agency in Northern Ireland says that the rate of simple gonorrhoea diagnoses has reached an all-time high.

The survey of sexually transmitted diseases shows that there were 451 new episodes of what they call “uncomplicated” gonorrhoea, up from 336 in 2011. That represents a 34 per cent increase.

The PHA says that the increase can be put down to more sensitive testing; an increase in the number of people tested and increased unsafe sex activity.

Untreated, the disease can enter the bloodstream or spread to the joints.

An infected pregnant woman may pass the infection to her baby during delivery. There is a growing worldwide problem of gonorrhoea becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Dr Neil Irvine, a Health Protection Consultant with the PHA said: “The increase has been seen in both heterosexuals and in men who have sex with men (MSM).

“This would suggest that the newer, more sensitive tests introduced in recent years are showing that prevalence was higher than previously thought.

However, there is also likely to be increased transmission due to unsafe sex, given that infectious syphilis and HIV diagnoses have also increased in recent years.

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