Burden of Disease

In 2006, infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae was the second most common reportable disease in the United States, with a reported rate just under 119 cases per 100,000 population. Unlike Chlamydia infection, which has seen increasing rates over the past decade, rates of N. gonorrhoeae infection have been stable since the mid-1990s. Infection rates are highest among girls and women between ages 15 and 24 years and men between 20 and 24 years. Although rates are increasing among white and Hispanic populations, the rate among blacks in 2006 (663 cases per 100,000) was almost 20 times higher than for whites. Other risk factors for infection include a history of previous gonorrhea or other STI, new or multiple sexual partners, inconsistent condom use, sex work, and drug use. The prevalence of gonorrhea varies widely among regions of the United States, with the South and Midwest having notably higher rates than the Northeast and West, and among communities (CDC, 2007).

In women, infection with N. gonorrhoeae is a major cause of cervicitis and PID. PID may cause ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. In men, gonorrhea can result in urethritis, epididymitis, and prostatitis. Gonorrheal infection is frequently asymptomatic in women. Infection in men can be asymptomatic as well, but less often than in women (Glass et al., 2005b).

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