Gonorrhoea is a common sexually transmitted infection in Australia. Many people do not realise that saliva can carry gonorrhoea, and that you can contract it through kissing and oral sex. However, almost no one uses condoms or other protective barriers during oral sex (or when kissing) increasing the spread of the infection. People with gonorrhoea are treated with antibiotics, but it has become resistant to many of these and may become untreatable in the future. Dr Chow has recently found that mouthwash can kill gonorrhoea in the throat and is now conducting a clinical study to see whether regularly using mouthwash can prevent humans from contracting gonorrhoea. If it works, this is an easy and cheap form of prevention, also reducing the use of antibiotics.
Eric has been working closely with the Victorian Department of Health to provide scientific advice on preventing and controlling sexually transmitted infections and has been invited to give presentations at international conferences and talks on sexual health to Victorian general practitioners. Recently, he has started working with several non-governmental organisations – such as Victorian AIDS Council, RhED (a community-based organisation for sex workers), and Minus18 (an organisation for LGBT teens) – on sexual health education and interventions.