Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Now to an unpleasant subject

Antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea (gosh, it's hard to remember how to spell that word) has been in the news a lot lately, including in the top story on The Age's website (about the number of worrying cases in Australia.)   

As it happens, I also heard the Health Report on Monday evening, which a story about a trial of the use of mouthwash to reduce transmission.   I had heard about that before, but the most surprising thing was this discussion about transmission:
And then there was a second observation that led us towards this mouthwash issue, and that was we saw that gonorrhoea was really common in young gay men but not very common in older gay men. So there must be something different that young gay men were doing, so that led us to a separate study to try and work out what that was, and it was kissing. So young gay men kiss a lot more individuals and don't have sex with them. And when they have sex with them they seem to kiss more than older gay men. And so we thought perhaps it's the throat. And that led us to think, well, if gonorrhoea is being transmitted from throat to throat, perhaps there's something we could do to attack that. And that led us to do some laboratory work on mouthwash.

Denton Callander: So wait a second, are you saying that kissing can transmit gonorrhoea?

Christopher Fairley: It's very hard to work out exactly what act transmits gonorrhoea because they all tend to happen at the same time, but yes that's exactly right. So we can grow gonorrhoea in almost all individuals who've got it in their throat in saliva. So yes, we think that the transmission of saliva through kissing might well transmit gonorrhoea.

Denton Callander: So you're saying, and correct me if I'm wrong, the throat seems to be a key anatomical site when it comes to gonorrhoea.

Christopher Fairley: Absolutely right. And this is flying in the face of what everyone else has always thought. They've always thought that you transmit gonorrhoea principally involving the penis, putting it into the throat or the vagina or into the anus and that's how it is transmitted, but we think probably that's not the case with sex between men, that it's saliva in the throat that is the key driver of infection.
Bugs really are out to get people, aren't they?   And it would appear that, until now, no one thought that this particular bug was probably being spread in this "safe sex" endorsed way. 

Although the trial is not yet finished, I reckon buying shares in mouthwash producing companies is probably a good idea at the moment.

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