Gonorrhea is a significant public health concern. The changing epidemiology of gonorrhea in Australia has highlighted the need for detailed examination of surveillance data to determine population groups at greatest risk for infection.
We analyzed deidentified gonorrhea notification data for the years 2012 to 2017, in Adelaide (N = 3680), calculating age-adjusted notification and antibiotic resistance rates. Age, gender, year, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status were assessed for associations with gonorrhea notifications using negative binomial, log binomial and spatial autoregressive models. Maps were generated to examine spatial localization of gonorrhea rates in Adelaide.
Gonorrhea notification rates in Adelaide increased annually, with a 153% adjusted increase in rates from 2012 to 2017, localized to specific areas and inversely associated with income levels. The increase in rates in 2016 and 2017 was associated with young heterosexuals from low income areas. Azithromycin-resistant notifications increased significantly in 2016 in young heterosexuals. Reinfections were significantly more likely in men who have sex with men than other population groups.
This study demonstrates the changing epidemiology of gonorrhea in Adelaide from a largely men who have sex with men profile toward an increase in young heterosexual gonorrhea. This could be seen as a harbinger for future increases in heterosexually transmitted HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in Australia.