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Extragenital Mycoplasma genitalium infections among men who have sex with men
  1. Rosie Louise Latimer1,2,
  2. Lenka Vodstrcil1,2,
  3. Vesna De Petra3,
  4. Christopher K Fairley1,2,
  5. Tim RH Read1,2,
  6. Deborah Williamson3,
  7. Michelle Doyle2,
  8. Eric PF Chow1,2,
  9. Catriona Bradshaw1,2
  1. 1 Central Clinical School, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Doherty Institute, Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Rosie Louise Latimer, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Melbourne, VIC 3053, Australia; rlatimer{at}


Objectives There are limited data on the prevalence of Mycoplasma genitalium (Mgen) coinfection with rectal chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis (CT)) and rectal gonorrhoea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG)) infections and few studies examining the prevalence of pharyngeal Mgen in men who have sex with men (MSM). Using transcription-mediated amplification assay, this study aimed to determine the proportion of rectal CT and rectal NG infections in MSM who are coinfected with rectal Mgen, and the proportion of MSM with Mgen detected in the pharynx in order to inform clinical practice.

Methods This was a cross-sectional study conducted at Melbourne Sexual Health Centre in Australia. Consecutively collected rectal swabs from MSM that tested positive for CT (n=212) or NG (n=212), and consecutively collected pharyngeal samples (n=480) from MSM were tested for Mgen using the Aptima Mycoplasma genitalium Assay (Hologic, San Diego). Samples were linked to demographic data and symptom status.

Results Rectal Mgen was codetected in 27 of 212 rectal CT (13%, 95% CI 9 to 18) and in 29 of 212 rectal NG (14%, 95% CI 9 to 19) samples, with no difference in the proportion positive for Mgen. MSM with rectal CT/Mgen coinfection had more sexual partners than those with rectal CT monoinfection (mean 6 vs 11, p=0.06). MSM with rectal NG/Mgen coinfection were more likely to be HIV-positive than those with rectal NG monoinfection (OR=2.96, 95% CI 1.21 to 7.26, p=0.023). MSM with rectal CT/Mgen coinfection were more likely to be using pre-exposure prophylaxis than MSM with rectal NG/Mgen coinfection (OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.65, p=0.002). Pharyngeal Mgen was uncommon and detected in 8 of 464 samples (2%, 95% CI 1% to 3%). Pharyngeal Mgen was associated with having a rectal STI (OR=10.61, 95% CI 2.30 to 48.87, p=0.002), and there was a borderline association with being HIV-positive (p=0.079).

Conclusion These data indicate one in seven MSM treated for rectal CT or rectal NG will have undiagnosed Mgen that is potentially exposed to azithromycin during treatment of these STIs. Rectal Mgen coinfection was associated with specific risk factors which may inform testing practices. Pharyngeal Mgen was uncommon.

  • mycoplasma genitalium
  • men who have sex with men
  • rectum
  • pharynx

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  • Handling editor Henry John Christiaan de Vries

  • Contributors All authors have contributed significantly to the work and approved the manuscript.

  • Funding This study received support from Hologic. RLL is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. TRHR was supported by NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (no 1091536).

  • Competing interests The Melbourne Sexual Health Centre receives funding from SpeeDx (Australia) for research projects on Mycoplasma genitalium; however, no funding from SpeeDx was received or used to support this project.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The Alfred Hospital Research Ethics Committee approved this study (project number 178/17).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.