Background: The study aimed to examine the trends in notification and testing for genital gonorrhoea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) in the Darwin Remote District of Northern Territory, Australia, between 2004 and 2008.
Methods: Using laboratory testing data and notification data, we calculated the annual sex- and age-specific notification rates, testing rates and positivity rates, and examined their trends. A deterministic matching method was used to identify unique individuals tested in order to estimate the number of years out of five in which each individual was tested. The correlation between testing rates and notification rates was calculated.
Results: The notification rates for the 15-24 year age group increased sharply from 2004 to 2005, and then trended downwards between 2005 and 2008, with a decrease of 48.2% in females and 59.9% in males. No evident trends were found in testing rates. The positivity rates for this age group decreased by 46.3% in females (from 8.9% to 4.8%), and by 70.4% in males (from 10.8% to 3.2%) between 2004 and 2008. Over 76% of the population in this age-group had been tested at least once during the study period. A moderate correlation was found between notification rates and testing rates in both sexes.
Conclusions: There was a significant decreasing trend in the notification rate of gonorrhoea between 2005 and 2008, which was most probably due to a decrease in prevalence. This study demonstrates the importance and utility of population-level testing data in understanding the epidemiology of common bacterial sexually transmissible infections such as gonorrhoea.