Objectives: To evaluate the microbiological cure rate after treatment with tetracyclines or azithromycin in patients infected with M genitalium.
Methods: One hundred and fifty-two men and 60 women positive for M genitalium were recruited. Patients treated either with doxycyline for 9 days or with azithromycin 1 g stat. were compared. Those still positive for M genitalium after primary doxycycline treatment received an extended course of azithromycin 500 mg on day 1 followed by 250 mg daily for the following 4 days, whereas those with treatment failure after azithromycin received doxycycline 100 mg twice daily for 15 days.
Results: The eradication rate after azithromycin 1 g stat. was 85% (95% CI 69 to 94) in men (n = 39) and 88% (95% CI 64 to 99) in women (n = 17) and after doxycycline 17% (95% CI 9 to 27) in men (n = 76) and 37% (95% CI 19 to 58) in women (n = 27). Extended azithromycin eradicated M genitalium from 96% (95% CI 85 to 99) of the men (n = 47) and from all six women who failed on doxycycline. Extended doxycycline treatment was insufficient. Persistent urethral inflammation was seen in a substantial portion of the men after eradication of M genitalium regardless of the antibiotic drug, indicating a poor predictive value of urethral smears in evaluation of persistent or recurrent infection.
Conclusions: Azithromycin was more effective than doxycycline in treating patients infected with M genitalium. The extended course of azithromycin was highly effective but was given after the initial treatment with doxycycline. Randomised clinical trials are needed to compare the different dosages of azithromycin.
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Parts of this study were presented at the 15th Meeting of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research, Ottawa, Canada, July 2003.
EB was the principal investigator for the study. All authors contributed to the study design. EB, CA, GB, HC, GJ, EJ, HM and PL collected the clinical data. JSJ performed most of the PCR analyses. EB, PL and JSJ prepared the manuscript, which was reviewed by all authors.
Funding: The study was supported by grants from the Edvard Welander and Finsen Foundations.
Competing interests: None.