Chief Health Officer Alert – Increase in syphilis and gonorrhoea in men who have sex with men (MSM)

Key messages

  • Victorian syphilis and gonorrhoea notifications have increased in the last few years, with cases reported predominantly in men who have sex with men (MSM).
  • Syphilis and gonorrhoea can be transmitted by unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex.
  • Syphilis and gonorrhoea infection increases both susceptibility to acquiring HIV infection and transmissibility of HIV infection.
  • Cases of ocular and neuro-syphilis are occurring in MSM with early syphilis in Victoria.
  • The emergence of antimicrobial resistance to gonorrhoea is concerning worldwide.
  • Obtaining gonorrhoea culture swabs is crucial for monitoring antimicrobial resistance.
  • Screen at risk groups: MSM at least annually and higher risk MSM more often for gonorrhoea and chlamydia. HIV positive MSM should have a syphilis test every time they have blood tests for routine HIV monitoring.
  • Inform contacts of sexual partners of syphilis and gonorrhoea cases at the time of diagnosis.
  • Test and treat sexual contacts of syphilis and gonorrhoea cases without waiting for test results
  • Educate patients about prevention strategies and early symptom recognition.

Read the full Advisory: Increase in syphilis and gonorrhoea in men who have sex with men (MSM)