Billy from Cairns writes: A couple of my mates have just been told they have gonorrhoea and were surprised because they didn’t have any symptoms. Now I think I might have it. Does it show up on your regular blood results or do I have to have a special test done?
Dr Louise replies: Thanks for your question, Billy.
Your routine HIV blood tests will usually include a blood test for syphilis. The other bugs need special tests. But they’re easily done. Just a urine sample, a throat swab and an anal swab test are all that is required to test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Neiserria gonorrhoea is a bacteria that can be easily transmitted during oral, anal or vaginal sex. The time from being infected to showing any symptoms can be pretty quick. In three to seven days you may notice a thick discharge from your penis or find it painful to urinate. However, if you were infected in the throat or anus you probably won’t have any symptoms. But you can still pass it on.
Many sexually transmitted infections (STI) go unnoticed because they don’t have any symptoms. And any STI increases both the risk of you transmitting HIV and the risk of someone who isn’t positive acquiring HIV. That is why it is important to get tested for them regularly.
There are some excellent guidelines available for men who have sex with men. They give you a good idea how often you should get tested for what, depending on the number of partners and the sort of sex you have. They are an easy read and you can find them here.
Gonorrhoea is easily treated with an injection of an antibiotic called Ceftriaxone. But it is extremely important that all your sexual partners from the last three months know if you have been diagnosed with gonorrhoea. That way they can get tested and get treated as well.
Wearing condoms is still the best way to prevent you from getting most STIs.