THE rapid spread of sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea in the NSW gay community has prompted a warning from health officials to "get tested now".
AIDS Council of NSW figures released on Monday revealed the number of gonorrhoea notifications attributed to unprotected sex between men had reached a six-year high.
ACON sexual health director Geoff Honour issued a frank warning to "every sexually active gay guy" in the state through the organisation's website.
While the official statement could not be printed, Mr Honour warned - among other things - the more sex someone had, the more they needed to get tested.
He said condoms provided the best defence against all STDs, including gonorrhoea, and were essential when sleeping with casual partners of unknown HIV status.
According to sexual health physician Dr Chris Bourne, testing for gonorrhoea usually takes minutes, includes genital and throat swabs and can be treated with a one-off antibiotic injection.
"It's crucially important to tell the guys you've been playing with if you're diagnosed with gonorrhoea, or any other STI, so that they can also test and treat," Dr Bourne said.
"Finding and treating gonorrhoea before it's transmitted to other men will reduce the spread in the community...and we can reduce the spread."
While many victims are unaware they are infected, symptoms of gonorrhoea in men can include a burning sensation when urinating, yellowish discharge around the penis and a sore throat and/or genitals.
Symptoms usually develop within ten days of unprotected sex.
Information on testing centres around NSW can be found by calling 1800 451 624 or via www.acon.org.au.