Record-Breaking Gonorrhoea Rates Spark Concern

Landspítali national hospital

According to the Directorate of Health, 213 individuals have been diagnosed with gonorrhoea in the first eight months of 2023, surpassing last year’s total of 158 cases, which had broken a 30-year record. The surge in cases, particularly among men aged 25-34 and women aged 25-29, has sparked debate over declining condom use and the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains.

Underlying cause remains uncertain

In the first eight months of this year, 213 individuals have been diagnosed with the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea, surpassing the total number of cases recorded last year, according to the Directorate of Health. The 2022 figure broke a three-decade record; after 1990, the incidence of the disease had greatly decreased.

Data from the Directorate of Health reveals that the most significant uptick in cases occurred among men aged 25 to 34 and women aged 25 to 29. While gonorrhoea cases are generally less frequent in women, year-to-year fluctuations are more pronounced.

The underlying cause of this surge remains uncertain, sparking debate over whether declining condom usage should be investigated, particularly in neighbouring countries. Another theory posits that asymptomatic individuals may unknowingly transmit the infection, especially in the absence of condom use.

The Directorate of Health notes that similar trends have been observed across continental Europe and other Nordic countries. Growing alarm surrounds antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhoea, heightening concerns over their potential spread. “Increased antibiotic resistance complicates the treatment of gonorrhoea with antibiotics, thereby hindering efforts to contain and eradicate the disease,” the Directorate warns.

As noted by the Directorate of Health: “In men, the most common symptom is burning or discomfort when urinating (urethritis) with pus-like discharge from the urethra. Asymptomatic infection in men is less common than in women. Symptoms of infection in the urinary and genital organs of women are often altered or increased discharge and pain around the lower abdomen. Other symptoms include abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods, burning sensations or discomfort when urinating. Women are often asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.”