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May 13, 1974

The Nondiscriminant Gonococcus

JAMA. 1974;228(7):875-876. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230320045034

Liberated or not, no woman is flattered by the notion that women are the only carriers of covert gonorrheal infection. Nor is she pleased by the thoroughness with which public health agencies trace female contacts of infected men, as contrasted with their laissez-faire in tracking down male contacts of infected women. Her pride is not readily placated by the plausible explanation that because gonorrhea in men is always floridly overt, infected men will seek medical attention of their own accord.

How valid is this explanation? Can men be exonerated from harboring covert gonorrheal infection?

Studies in the Norfolk Venereal Disease Clinic1,2 demonstrated that about 10% of men exposed to infected women harbored Neisseria gonorrheae in their urethras without manifesting any symptoms. In 8.3%, the organisms persisted from 8 to 56 days after exposure. None would have known that he was a reservoir of infectious organisms—a danger to himself and