Mycoplasma genitalium: Fighting a little known, often drug-resistant STD

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Mycoplasma genitalium: Fighting a little known, often drug-resistant STD

August 9, 2018

U.S. News & World Report interviews STD expert at University of Washington

An emerging bacterial threat, mycoplasma genitalium, that can be passed through sex is making some headlines across the pond as the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV recently drafted guidance aimed at better detecting and treating it.

Lisa Manhart, a professor of epidemiology and adjunct professor in global health at the UW, who has been researching Mgen for two decades, says the drug that's typically used to treat it, azithromycin, "cures people 50 percent of the time or less." She notes that M. genitalium is more prevalent than the common STD gonorrhea, and has much higher rates of antibiotic resistance. "Anytime treatment efficacy drops below 95 percent for gonorrhea people get very, very concerned," she says. "M. genitalium is more than twice as common, and our treatment failure rates are 50 percent or more." In such cases, clinicians must try another medicine. "You would need a different antibiotic – a more specialized antibiotic called moxifloxacin," Manhart says.

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