Norway reports ‘Worrying rise in gonorrhea’


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During 2022, there was a significant increase in gonorrhea cases in Norway, particularly among young people of both sexes. Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI) asks the health service to be vigilant.

Gonorrhea is highly contagious. Now we have to get young people to use condoms, says senior advisor Oyvind Nielsen at the FHI.

The significant increase in infections among young women is of particular concern. Øivind Nilsen says that women are more likely to develop serious diseases than men.

The incidence of gonorrhea increased significantly in the 10-year period from 2010 until the epidemic in 2020, especially among men who have sex with men, but declined sharply during the epidemic. During 2022, the infection rate increased again, especially from August, among young people of both sexes in connection with the normal reopening of universities and colleges. This shows figures from the Communicable Disease Reporting System (MSIS).

Reported cases among women have increased tenfold in a few years

Figures for 2022 show that there has been a tenfold increase in reported cases of gonorrhea among women compared to the past few years, from 51 cases in 2012 to 499 cases in 2022.

Most people reported to be infected in 2022 are in the 20-29 age range, with an average age of 22 years among women and 25 years among sexually infected men.

The FHI had already notified infection control doctors and clinics in the most affected municipalities, including Bergen, Oslo, Trondheim and Stavanger, about the situation in August last year. Then targeted information was developed for student communities and health centers, including extensive media coverage.

The alarming development continues in 2023 with 277 new cases reported in January alone, of which 116 were among women. If this trend continues, there will likely be more than 3,000 cases of gonorrhea in 2023.

Outbreaks of fears among heterosexual youth

Gonorrhea is highly contagious. Øivind Nilsen says the potential for an outbreak is high if infections now emerge among heterosexual youth, where frequent partner changes and low condom use are common.

Increasing attention to the disease and knowing the risk of infection among young people is of particular importance.

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– Now we have to get young people to use condoms. Remember that when meeting a new or casual partner nearly all infections happen – always use a condom afterwards, he urges.

Correct treatment and thorough tracing of infection are important

– Nielsen says that targeted tests and diagnostics, the correct selection of antibiotics in treatment, as well as comprehensive tracking of infections in the health service, are now essential to controlling the situation.

The Directorate of Health and the Institute of Public Health are closely monitoring the situation and are now sending letters to municipal doctors in the country with information about the situation, advising on preventive measures, availability of examinations, treatment and the importance of comprehensive infection tracing. FHI has also developed information materials for the public that the health service can use.

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