M. genitalium Infects 11% of Sexually Active Teens


LOS ANGELES — Mycoplasma genitalium infection had an incidence of 11% in the first study to investigate the epidemiology of this newly recognized sexually transmitted disease in female adolescents, Aneesh K. Tosh, M.D., said at the annual meeting of the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

The study involved 233 female adolescents who were each followed for 27 months, with vaginal samples collected and sexual history interviews conducted every 3 months. Of the study subjects, 85% were sexually active—with an average age of first sexual intercourse of 14 years—and 85% were African American. All lived in an urban area.

During the study, 26 of the 233 subjects tested positive for a M. genitalium infection, said Dr. Tosh of the department of pediatrics at Indiana University. Only one of those infections was present at the start of the study. Nine of those who tested positive also tested positive on repeated occasions.

None of the participants who was sexually inactive ever tested positive.

Factors that were identified as being associated with infection were a greater number of sexual partners in the prior 3 months and concurrent chlamydia infection. Condom use, or the lack thereof, and concurrent gonorrhea or trichomonas infection were not associated with M. genitalium. There were few non-African Americans in the study, but there was no difference in incidence of M. genitalium infection by race, Dr. Tosh said.

Male sexual partners of the subjects were invited to participate in the study, and 94 partners were enrolled. Four of 17 partners of those females who tested positive for infection also tested positive at some time (25%), and two of 77 partners of uninfected females tested positive (3%).

M. genitalium was first isolated in 1980, Dr. Tosh said. Because it is a small organism that is difficult to culture, reliable testing was not available until the advent of laboratory polymerase chain reaction techniques. Until this study, most studies have been conducted with males and in STD clinics, though infection in females has been implicated in urethritis, cervicitis, salpingitis, and endometritis.

Currently there are no recommendations for treatment, because there is no approved clinical assay, though many believe guidelines of some sort [are likely to become available] soon, Dr. Tosh said.

None of the subjects in the study was treated, because the samples were collected a few years before the subjects were tested for M. genitalium.

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