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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:18 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:30 am
Posts: 1
I actually stumbled on this forum while Googling for information about syphilis, but as it's the first forum on the subject of STDs I have encountered, I thought I'd recount an incident that happened to me a bit over 3 years ago, and see what people think.

At the time, I was involuntarily celibate, apart from occasional forays to the fleshpots of South-East Asia, where I would spend a week or several weeks, having (shock! horror!) unprotected sex with one or several partners, usually several times a day. On my return, I would always report to the relevant clinic (I think it was called Clinic 275, after the street number, but it was the State-run sexually-transmitted disease clinic for Adelaide, Australia) for a full panoply of tests. As you'd expect, the results were always negative.

On one of these trips, I fell into an open sewer that had been illegally dug into the footpath, scraped my foot on the way down, and ended up with the now open wound in the disgusting gunk in the bottom. I don't know whether this is relevant, but it may be.

Some weeks after my return, I was running a high fever and barely able to walk; so I went to bed. Twenty-four hours later, I woke up, attended to my bodily needs with great difficulty, and went back to bed. Another twenty-four hours later, I woke up again, and organized some help getting to my GP. He was very concerned and said I should go to hospital immediately.

While there, I was asked exactly two questions about my sexual history:

Q: Have you ever had unprotected sex?
A: Yes.
Q: When was the last time you had unprotected sex?
A: Five weeks ago.

This desultory discussion of my sex life was quite consistent with, say, my being an ideal husband in a monogamous but sex-starved relationship. Somehow, however, the medical staff decided that the only possible explanation of this illness was that it was an STD.

I had any number of swabs poked up my penis (am I allowed to write that word?—apparently not, as it got a more "respectable" word substituted for it; how childish!), testing for gonorrhoea, and of course all the tests were negative, After a while, while I was urinating, a criss-cross network of scabby material came out in my urine, and I started bleeding profusely from my penis (ha! gotcha!).

Anyway, the diagnosis was septic polyarthritis, and they insisted it was from gonorrhoea, although I had never had gonorrhoea and I had been tested on every occasion that there was even a remote chance of my having caught it. I might mention that I have had both ears full of Staphylococcus aureus since the age of 18 (I was 48 at the time of my hospitalization). I believe that this organism can also be responsible for septic polyarthritis.

I suppose I am wondering if it is possible I got gonorrhoea in my bloodstream through falling in the sewer. The intern who saw me insisted that this was not the case. Rather, he said, I must have got gonorrhoea in the normal way, and it must have got into my bloodstream and thence into my joints really quickly, and disappeared from the site of the original infection and from my blood, all in the space of five weeks. He didn't sound as though he were even convincing himself.

Anyway, gonorrhoea is a notifiable disease in South Australia, and I got a letter from the Health Department saying I had to report to Clinic 275 again, to be tested once more for gonorrhoea and once more be told I didn't have it.

As a clincher to all this, they also told me I had Hepatitis B while I was in hospital, later refusing to confirm the statement, or deny it either. I got tested for that too at my compulsory visit to the Clap Clinic, as it is affectionately known, and that was negative too.

Personally, I think the way I was treated is disgraceful.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:09 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:47 am
Posts: 5443
Location: PA
So they never had any lab specimens that confirmed gonorrhea as the cause of the arthritis ? They never tapped a joint or anything like that? Almost sounds like someone read an article in a medical journal recently on it and decided it sounded plausible eh?

I've asked Fredo to chime in because he's more knowledgeable about gonorrhea than I am but if you never had a test that was + ever, hard to imagine how they came up with that particular diagnosis.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:12 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
Occasionally, gonococcal infections become disseminated and spread to the blood or joints, the latter of which can result in septic arthritis. Attaching the prefix poly simply means multiple joints are involved.

Septic polyarthritis can be related to gonorrhea, but other bacterial infections can also cause the condition. I don't know how to explain why the clinic thinks yours is related to gonorrhea despite the negative tests, but I don't know the details of diagnosing dsseminated gonococcal infections (DGI). Ask your healthcare provides to sort this out for you, and how they determined the arthritis is associated with a gonococcal infection.

A paper by Meader and Schmacher (Hospital Physician March 2003) alludes to skin (from various anogenital sites), blood, and synovial fluid cultures and "appropriate antibiotic therapy" to avoid complications.

Hope this helps.


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