Is kissing to blame for rising rate of gonorrhoea?

Kissing could be a hidden driver of Australia’s rising rate of gonorrhoea, a specialist suggests.

Professor Kit Fairley, from the Melbourne Sexual health Centre, says a survey of 1151 men who have sex with men (MSM) found a mean of 3.7 kissing-only partners in the previous three months and 4.5 kissing-and-sex partners.

He says kissing is not usually considered in gonorrhoea transmission but gonococcus is frequently detected in the saliva of men with pharyngeal infection.

Men with pharyngeal or rectal gonorrhoea often go untreated whereas as those with urethral disease tend to get symptoms prompting them to seek treatment, Professor Fairley and colleagues write in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“We propose new models of gonorrhoea transmission: throat-to-throat transmission through kissing and throat-to-anus transmission (and vice versa) through oro-anal sex,” they write.