Latest trends in Gonorrhoea: Provisional data for 2023


HPSC has published provisional gonorrhoea annual data for 2023 today, Thursday 7th March. There has been a significant increase in case numbers in 2022 and 2023 compared with trends before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key statistics

In 2023, 6,824 cases of gonorrhoea were notified, with the rate in 2023 being 125% higher than that in the pre-pandemic period in 2019.

  • Median age of cases was 28 years overall, 22 years in females and 30 years in males.
  • 77% of cases were male, a lower proportion than previous years.
  • Cases were diagnosed in a variety of settings; 25% of cases were diagnosed in General Practice, 25% in the HSE home testing service, and 43% in STI clinics.

 The notification rate in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) has risen by 96% since 2019.

  • Among males, where mode of transmission was known (48%), 84% were in gbMSM, and 11% were in heterosexuals.
  • Overall rates in gbMSM (18 years and older) were high at 1,827 per 100,000 population.

An increase in female cases, which started in the second half of 2022, continued until March 2023, but has since plateaued in 2023 at a higher level.

  • This increase is particularly apparent in those aged 20-24 years. This age group had the highest rate (544.5 per 100,000), with a 204% increase since 2019.
  • Rates in females aged 15-19 years were lower at 216 per 100,000 but increased by 280% between 2019 and 2023. Most cases in this age group were in those aged 18 and 19 years of age (88% of female cases and 90% of male cases).

Increasing trends in gonorrhoea in young females aged 20 to 24 years has also been seen internationally. On 7th March 2024, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control published a rapid communications article, describing this increase. They reported that gonorrhoea cases increased steeply in women aged 20 to 24 years across 15 EU/EEA countries in July-December 2022 and January-June 2023 with 73% and 89% more cases reported than expected, respectively, based on historical data from 2015-2019.

Reasons for rise in cases

Reasons for this increase in young heterosexuals are not fully understood, and ECDC is working with countries to better understand the situation. There may be several contributing factors to the rises seen in gonorrhoea overall. Before the pandemic, many STIs including gonorrhoea were increasing and the figures to date reflect ongoing increasing trends. Behaviours that increase the risk of acquiring an STI such as gonorrhoea, including not using condoms consistently, particularly when changing partners, are relatively common. Availability of the national home testing service has also increased access to testing and affected numbers of cases notified, with 25% of gonorrhoea notifications in 2023 first identified via the home testing service.

HSE supports and information

While trends are increasing, the transmission of STIs such as gonorrhoea is preventable, and gonorrhoea can be cured with antibiotics. There are steps that everyone can take to look after their sexual health. These include reducing the risk of contracting gonorrhoea and other STIs by using condoms, and testing to detect and treat infections early following unprotected sex. 

The HSE has a range of free supports available:

  • Free condoms: Condoms are the most effective method of preventing most STIs. Condoms and lubricant are available free and can be accessed by anyone from the age of 17 years through postal services or community venues. Further information on how to access free condoms is available here.
  • National HSE STI home testing services: The HSE free home STI testing service is available to anyone aged 17 or older. To use the service, order a test kit at, return your samples to the lab by post, and get your test results by text message or phone call.
  • Public STI clinics: All STI testing and treatment in public sexual health or GUM clinics is provided free of charge. A list of public STI clinics available here.
  • Learn about prevention: Information on how to prevent STIs can be found here. This includes advice on condom use, testing, and vaccinations.
  • Resources for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) are available at

For more information and resources, please visit and