Increases in the Rate of Neisseria gonorrhoeae Among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men-Findings From the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Network 2010-2015

Sex Transm Dis. 2017 Jul;44(7):393-397. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000623.


Background: Inequalities in Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea) burden by sexual minority status in the United States are difficult to quantify. Sex of sex partner is not routinely collected for reported cases. Population estimates of men who have sex with men (MSM) necessary to calculate case rates have not been available until recently. For these reasons, trends in reported gonorrhea rates among MSM have not been described across multiple jurisdictions.

Methods: We estimated of the number of MSM cases reported in 6 jurisdictions continuously participating in the STD Surveillance Network 2010-2015 based on interviews with a random sample of cases. Data were obtained for Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco, California (excluding San Francisco), and Washington State. Estimates of the MSM, heterosexual male (MSW) and female populations were obtained from recently published estimates and census data. Case rates and rate-ratios were calculated comparing trends in reported cases among MSM, heterosexual males and women.

Results: The proportion of male gonorrhea cases among MSM varied by jurisdiction (range: 20% to 98%). Estimated MSM rate increased from 1369 cases per 100,000 in 2010 to 3435 cases per 100,000 in 2015. Between 2010 and 2015, the MSM-to-Women gonorrhea rate ratio increased from 13:1 to 24:1, and the MSM-to-MSW gonorrhea rate ratio increased from 16:1 to 31:1.

Conclusions: Estimated gonorrhea rate among MSM increased in a network of 6 geographically diverse US jurisdictions. Estimating the size of this population, determining MSM among reported cases and estimating rates are essential first steps for better understanding the changing epidemiology of gonorrhea.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Cities / epidemiology*
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology*
  • Gonorrhea / microbiology
  • Gonorrhea / transmission*
  • Heterosexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / isolation & purification*
  • Sentinel Surveillance
  • Sexual Partners
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult