An increasing proportion of gonorrhea in the United States is diagnosed in the private sector, posing a challenge to existing national surveillance systems. We described gonorrhea epidemiology outside sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic settings.
Through the STD Surveillance Network (SSuN), health departments in the San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, and Richmond, Virginia, metropolitan areas interviewed systematic samples of men and women reported with gonorrhea by non-STD clinic providers from 2006 through 2008.
Of 2,138 interviews, 10.0% were from San Francisco, 26.4% were from Seattle, 25.2% were from Denver, 22.9% were from Minneapolis, and 15.5% were from Richmond. A total of 1,165 women were interviewed; 70.1% (815/1,163) were ≤24 years of age, 51.3% (598/1,165) were non-Hispanic black, and 19.0% (213/1,121) reported recent incarceration of self or sex partner. Among 610 men who have sex with only women, 50.9% were ≤24 years of age, 65.1% were non-Hispanic black, 14.1% reported incarceration of self or sex partner, and 16.7% reported anonymous sex. Among 363 men who have sex with men (MSM), 20.9% were ≤24 years of age, 61.6% were non-Hispanic white, 39.8% reported anonymous sex, 35.7% reported using the Internet to meet sex partners, and 12.1% reported methamphetamine use.
These data identified two concurrent gonorrhea epidemics in minority populations: a young, black, heterosexual epidemic with frequently reported recent incarceration, and an older, mostly white MSM epidemic with more frequently reported anonymous sex, Internet use to meet sex partners, and methamphetamine use.