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Gonorrhea infections in Denmark have been on the rise for a long time, and now the infection curve has taken an extraordinarily large jump.


Almost 40 percent more people were diagnosed with gonorrhea last year compared to the year before, and the number is now at the highest level for over 25 years.

This is shown by the latest calculation from the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), which has calculated the figures for 2022.

A total of 3,906 cases of the sexually transmitted infection (STI)  were reported in 2022, while 2,807 cases were reported in 2021. By comparison, in the year 2000, just 152 cases were reported.

Gonorrhea is detected more often in gay men than in heterosexuals, and while for homosexuals there has been a continuous increase in the infection over a number of years, the infection has almost stagnated among heterosexuals since 2016.

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But now the spread of infection is seen especially among heterosexual men and women, who account for an increase of almost 44 percent, while the infection among homosexuals increases by somewhat less, 26 percent. And that is remarkable, says Susan Cowan, who is section manager at SSI.

“It is a very strong increase among heterosexuals, where otherwise there has been no significant increase for several years. Now we suddenly see a jump here after covid-19”, she said.

A possible explanation for the fact that gonorrhea has generally been on the rise since the turn of the millennium must be found in the fact that the fear of another sexually transmitted disease has decreased.

When HIV made its inroads in the 80s, campaigns for safe sex and the fear of contracting the new and then deadly disease led more people to protect themselves with condoms. And the condom not only protected against HIV infection, but also caused infection with several other sexually transmitted diseases to decrease.

However, there are indications that more people have now put the condom on the shelf, says Susan Cowan.

“The fear of HIV is no longer as present as it was in the 80s and 90s. We have therefore long had an expectation that gonorrhea would rise to the same heights as we saw before HIV”.