Which age groups are at highest risk for gonorrhea infection?

Updated: Sep 07, 2018
  • Author: Brian Wong, MD; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Answer

The highest incidence of gonococcal infection in the United States in 2016 was among adults aged 20-24 years, in both men and women. [16, 17] This is likely due to the following (see the figure below):

  • Increased numbers of sexual partners
  • Decreased access to or use of health care
  • Physiologic ectopy of the squamocolumnar junction in females
  • Decreased use of barrier contraceptives
Rates of reported gonorrhea cases by age group and Rates of reported gonorrhea cases by age group and sex, United States, 2016. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Infection in children is a marker for child sexual abuse and should be reported as such, although a 2007 review provided some support for nonsexual transmission between children and for transmission from adults to children related to poor hand hygiene. [30, 31]

Gonococcemia remains an important disease in the adolescent and young adult population, with a peak incidence in males aged 20-24 years and in females aged 15-19 years.


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