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Over 1,000 people in Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare have contracted gonorrhoea this year

Rates across the country have risen in the past three years, but the greater Dublin area has been particularly badly hit.

Image: donatas1205 via Shutterstock

IRISH PEOPLE HAVE been warned to practice safe sex as rates of gonorrhoea rise, with Dublin particularly affected.

The HSE today warned that the the STI, which can often be symptomless, has risen by 33 per cent.

Of particular concern, the HSE says, has been the magnitude of the increase in the Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare region, where there were 817 cases in 2012 compared with 613 in 2011.

This increase is continuing in 2013 with 1,077 cases of gonorrhoea in Ireland this year to date.

In response to the numbers, the HSE has set up an outbreak control team, staffed by public health professionals.

The control team has carried out “enhanced surveillance” on all gonorrhoea cases notified during the first three months of 2013 in the East and South-East areas.

This surveillance identified two risk groups for gonorrhoea: gay men and young heterosexuals.

The proportion of cases seen in heterosexuals was 44 per cent of the total.

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Dr. Margaret Fitzgerald, Director of Public Health in HSE East, said that though not serious in itself, the disease could have huge complications if left untreated.

“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.

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

Susan Donlon of the Dublin AIDS Alliance says that the “best available medicine” is to practice safe sex.

“We urge everyone to follow simple steps for protection – get accurate and reliable information on sexually transmitted infections, always use a condom when having sex, and reduce your number of sexual partners”

Read: Gonorrhoea cases at an all-time high in Northern Ireland

Read: Reilly: Chlamydia screening programme ‘would not be cost-effective’

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