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Telling your partners about Gonorrhoea

Below you’ll find answers to some of the questions people ask about Gonorrhoea and contacting their partners.

For more information on Gonorrhoea (Fact Sheets) click here.

Please click on the question listed below for further information.

 
° HOW common is Gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is a worldwide disease, affecting both males and females. In Australia, the rate of notified cases of gonorrhoea increased in the late 1990s to a level not seen since the mid 1980s, this increase has been sustained in Victoria.

The increase has involved men who have sex with men (who comprised approximately two thirds of cases) and also heterosexual men.It is most prevalent in people aged 15 – 29. Infection may be symptomatic or asymptomatic.

   
 
° WHY do I need to contact my sexual partners?

Gonorrhoea is passed from one person to another by sexual contact.

If you have gonorrhoea then it is very likely that one or more of your sexual partners also have this infection.

Telling your sexual partners is important because it:

  • is the only way most people will know they have this infection
  • stops you getting the infection back again
  • shows your partner that you care about them
  • reduces the chance of your partner developing serious problems such as infertility
  • stops your partner passing the infection to others

Gonorrhoea usually presents with symptoms in men (a profuse discharge from the penis) but is usually asymptomatic if the infection involves the throat or anus. About half of all women with gonorrhoea don’t have any symptoms and so they don’t know they have the infection.      

           
   
 
° WHICH partners do I need to contact?

We suggest you contact anyone you’ve had unprotected sex with in the last 3-6 months or, if you haven’t had sex with anyone during that time, your most recent sexual partner.

   
 
° WHAT do I need to tell them?

You need to tell your partners that they:

  • may be at risk of having gonorrhoea
  • need to get tested and treated for this infection by a doctor.
  • need to contact their other partners (if they have gonorrhoea)
   
 
° HOW do I go about telling them?


Most people prefer their partners to talk to them face-to-face or over the phone about this issue.

However, if this is not possible, or you don’t feel comfortable doing this, then think of using other methods such as email, SMS or a letter in the post.

Remember, you don’t have to explain everything to your partners. Just give your partners our Fact Sheet or tell then to:


   
 
° WHEN do I tell them?

It’s important to tell your partners as soon as possible. The sooner they get tested and treated the better. If you put it off, you might never get around to doing it.

   
 
° WHAT if I don’t want my partner(s) to know it’s me who has Gonorrhoea?


While people respond best when they know who is contacting them, we understand that sometimes you may feel awkward, embarrassed or even frightened about doing this. So, if you really don’t want your partner to know who you are, you can:

  • send an anonymous email from this website
  • send an anonymous SMS
  • send or drop in a letter that you don’t sign.
  • ask your doctor if she/he can help you contact your partner(s)

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what method you use to contact your partner. The most important thing is TO LET YOUR PARTNERS KNOW THEY ARE AT RISK.

   
 
° WHAT if my partner’s Gonorrhoea test is negative?


There are several reasons why your partner’s gonorrhoea test may come back negative:

He or she may never have had the infection. Not everyone who comes in contact with gonorrhoea will develop the infection.

He or she may have got rid of the infection by the time the test is done, often by taking antibiotics for other reasons.

The test result may be a false negative. (False negative - and false positive - results can occur with any laboratory test). This is why we recommend all partners be treated with antibiotics, even before the test result is known.

   
 
 

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