Background This study explored spatial-temporal variation in diagnoses of gonorrhoea to identify and quantify endemic areas and clusters in relation to patient characteristics and outcomes of partner notification (PN) across England, UK. Methods Endemic areas and clusters were identified using a two-stage analysis with Kulldorff's scan statistics (SaTScan). Results Of 2,571,838 tests, 53,547 diagnoses were gonorrhoea positive (positivity = 2.08%). The proportion of diagnoses in heterosexual males was 1.5 times that in heterosexual females. Among index cases, men who have sex with men (MSM) were 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhoea than heterosexual males (p<0.0001). After controlling for age, gender, ethnicity and deprivation rank, 4 endemic areas were identified including 11,047 diagnoses, 86% of which occurred in London. 33 clusters included 17,629 diagnoses (34% of total diagnoses in 2012 and 2013) and spanned 21 locations, some of which were dominated by heterosexually acquired infection, whilst others were MSM focused. Of the 53,547 diagnoses, 14.5% (7,775) were the result of PN. The proportion of patients who attended services as a result of PN varied from 0% to 61% within different age, gender and sexual orientation cohorts. A third of tests resulting from PN were positive for gonorrhoea. 25% of Local Authorities (n = 81, 95% CI: 20.2, 29.5) had a higher than expected proportion for female PN diagnoses as compared to 16% for males (n = 52, 95% CI: 12.0, 19.9). Conclusions The English gonorrhoea epidemic is characterised by spatial-temporal variation. PN success varied between endemic areas and clusters. Greater emphasis should be placed on the role of PN in the control of gonorrhoea to reduce the risk of onward transmission, reinfection, and complications of infection.
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© 2018 O'Brien et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.