Risk factors for urethral gonorrhoea infection among heterosexual males in Melbourne, Australia: 2007-17

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Background: Since 2014 there has been an increase in gonorrhoea among heterosexuals in Australia. Sex with a partner from a country with high gonorrhoea prevalence has been identified as a risk factor for gonorrhoea in heterosexual females, but risk factors for heterosexual males remain unclear. This study determined risk factors for gonorrhoea among heterosexual males. Methods: Retrospective analysis was performed among heterosexual males attending Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC) between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2017. Countries for overseas sexual partners were stratified as high-prevalence countries (HPC) or low-prevalence countries (LPC) based on the incidence of gonorrhoea. Results: The annual gonorrhoea positivity increased from 0.72% in 2007 to 1.33% in 2017 (Ptrend <0.001). Males attending MSHC as a contact of gonorrhoea had the highest odds of testing positive (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 7.46; 95% confidence interval (CI) 4.46-12.49), followed by males identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (aOR 2.57; 95% CI 1.30-5.09), males who had injected drugs in the past 12 months (aOR 2.44; 95% CI 1.39-4.30) and males who had sex with a female from an HPC (aOR 2.18; 95% CI 1.77-2.68). Males aged ≥35 were at higher risk than those aged ≤24 years (aOR 1.44; 95% CI 1.14-1.82). Gonorrhoea positivity increased among males who had sex with females from an LPC (from 0.60% to 1.33%; Ptrend = 0.004) but remained the same over time among males who had sex with females from an HPC (2.14%; Ptrend = 0.143). Conclusions: There was an 80% increase in urethral gonorrhoea among heterosexual males between 2007 and 2017. Having sex with a female from an HPC is a significant risk factor for gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea positivity among men having sex with a female from an HPC did not change over time, suggesting this risk factor has become less important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-513
Number of pages6
JournalSexual Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • gonorrhoea prevention
  • sex overseas
  • travel

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