A new study shows that gonorrhea transmission via saliva (rimming, kissing, and oral sex), and not anal sex, is the primary method of infection among gay men.
AIDSMap reports on the Australian research, involving 60 same-sex couples, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections: ‘“Our key finding was that in the absence of urethral infection, when one man in a couple had throat gonorrhoea, his partner commonly had throat gonorrhoea (23%), and when one man in a couple had anal gonorrhoea his partner commonly had throat gonorrhoea (34%),” comment the investigators, who note these percentages are much higher than would be expected to occur by chance (3-6%).’
The study added: “Our data are not consistent with the conventional paradigm of gonorrhoea transmission between men, in which most gonorrhoea transmission is from the urethra to the throat and anus, and vice versa. Instead, our data are consistent with a new paradigm of gonorrhoea transmission in which the throat plays a central role in transmission to the partner’s throat, anus and urethra, presumably through infected saliva.”
“We observed high gonorrhoea positivity in the throat and anus if a man’s partner had urethral gonorrhoea,” note the authors. “Most cases of urethral gonorrhoea [88%] in our study were symptomatic and presented to our clinic within a few days of developing symptoms. This suggests that the direction of gonorrhoea transmission in these couples was likely from the throat or anus to the urethra.”
The authors assert that the “moderately” high prevalence of throat gonorrhoea among the partners of men with anal infection – even after excluding men with urethral infection – does not support conventional wisdom that the urethra is the main source of gonorrhoea infections in the throat and anus. “Instead, these data support direct transmission from the throat to anus,” the authors comment.
The investigators also highlight that when one man in a couple had throat gonorrhoea, there was a high chance that both men in the couple would have the infection at this site. They therefore suggest that transmission was occurring directly from throat to throat via kissing.
The authors concluded: “Our data support a new paradigm of gonorrhoea transmission which suggests that the throat is a major source of gonorrhoea transmission between men.”
Read the full report HERE.