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Prevalence of Mycoplasma genitalium by anatomical site in men who have sex with men: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Rosie L Latimer1,2,
  2. Hannah S Shilling3,4,
  3. Lenka A Vodstrcil1,2,
  4. Dorothy A Machalek3,4,5,
  5. Christopher K Fairley1,2,
  6. Eric P F Chow1,2,
  7. Tim RH Read1,2,
  8. Catriona S Bradshaw1,2,5
  1. 1 Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Centre for Women’s Infectious Diseases, Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4 Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5 School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Rosie L Latimer, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, Melbourne, VIC 3053, Australia; rlatimer{at}


Objective To systematically review and appraise published data, to determine the prevalence of Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) in men who have sex with men (MSM) tested at each anatomical site, that is, at the urethra, rectum and/or pharynx.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources Ovid Medline, PubMed, Embase were searched for articles from 1st January 1981 (the year MG was first identified) to 1st June 2018.

Review methods Studies were eligible for inclusion if they reported MG prevalence in MSM tested at the urethra, rectum and/or pharynx, in at least 50 MSM, using nucleic acid amplification testing. Data were extracted by anatomical site, symptom and HIV status. Summary estimates (95% CIs) were calculated using random-effects meta-analysis. Subgroup analyses were performed to assess heterogeneity between studies.

Results Forty-six studies met inclusion criteria, with 34 reporting estimates of MG prevalence at the urethra (13 753 samples), 25 at the rectum (8629 samples) and 7 at the pharynx (1871 samples). MG prevalence was 5.0% (95% CI 3.5 to 6.8; I2=94.0) at the urethra; 6.2% (95% CI 4.6 to 8.1; I2=88.1) at the rectum and 1.0% (95% CI 0.0 to 5.1; I2=96.0) at the pharynx. The prevalence of MG was significantly higher at urethral and rectal sites in symptomatic versus asymptomatic MSM (7.1% vs 2.2%, p<0.001; and 16.1% vs 7.5%, p=0.039, respectively). MG prevalence at the urethra was significantly higher in HIV-positive compared with HIV-negative MSM (7.0% vs 3.4%, p=0.006).

Conclusion MG was common in MSM, particularly at urethral and rectal sites (5% to 6%). MG was more commonly detected in symptomatic men at both sites, and more common in HIV-positive men at the urethra. MG was uncommonly detected in the pharynx. Site-specific estimates are similar to those for chlamydia and will be helpful in informing testing practices in MSM.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42017058326.

  • mycoplasma
  • meta-analysis
  • gay men
  • homosexuality

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  • Handling editor Nicola Low

  • Twitter @lenkavod, @EricPFChow

  • Presented at This work was previously presented as a poster at the STI & HIV 2019 World Congress, Vancouver, Canada. Poster P525: Prevalence of Mycoplasma genitalium by anatomical site in men who have sex with men: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

  • Contributors All authors contributed significantly to the work.

  • Funding RLL is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. TRHR was supported by NHMRC early career fellowship no. 1091536.

  • Competing interests EPFC reports grants from Merck & Co., grants from Seqirus Australia, outside the submitted work; CB reports that Melbourne Sexual Health Centre has received funding from Speedx outside the submitted work.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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