Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The new STI in town...

There’s a new STI!

Well. Not really.

It’s called mycoplasma genitalium[1] (it really needs a better agent – that’s a terrible name). And it was first identified around 1981.

What’s actually new is that scientists have figured out that it’s spread through skin to skin sexual contact. A study in England found that around 1% of the population that they tested was positive for MG. Most folks had no symptoms at all. Scientists in multiple studies are also starting to identify MG’s role in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and in urethritis.

What the hell are those conditions? Good question.

PID is a serious disease that occurs in people with uteruses. It’s an infection inside the pelvis. It usually starts with when someone contracts a sexually transmitted infection, does not get treatment (often because there are no symptoms) and the infection spreads to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The infection can cause fever, intense abdominal pain and possible issues with fertility. It appears that a sizeable minority of cases of PID are linked to MG. PID is treatable, however, the earlier it’s diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

Urethritis is an inflammation or infection in the urethra in the penis. It usually has symptoms, including: pain with sex, pain with urination and or discharge from the urethra (where the pee comes out). Like PID, it’s treatable.

Why does it matter that some folks with PID or urethritis are infected with MG? Because MG may not respond to the antibiotics usually used to treat those conditions. It often responds to azithromycin (more commonly known as the Z pack). In the cases where a Z Pack doesn’t  kill the bacteria, a newer drug called Moxiloxacin seems to work. Because it’s a great idea to get rid of PID or urethritis quickly, experts are recommending that clinicians test for MG when treating these conditions so that they use the right drugs.

So what does this mean for the rest of us? Well, not a lot. Humans who have sex with other humans sometimes share disease with each other. We have ways to prevent and/or reduce the chances of that. Using condoms seems to reduce (but not eliminate) the transmission of MG. Engaging in the kinds of sex that don’t involve rubbing skin against each other seems like it would also work (mutual masturbation, skype sex, using sex toys - but not sharing them, etc).

And, getting tested also seems like a good idea. But, that may be a little tricky. Although there are tests for MG, there’s still not a testing standard. So ask your clinician and see what your options are. If you get diagnosed with PID or urethritis, demand a test.

Because you, your health and your sexuality are worth it.

[1] Much of the data in this post was sourced from the CDC Emerging Issues STI Treatment Guidelines 2015

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for taking the time to write the article. I have two additions, however. Urethritis is not limited to people with penises, it hits those with vaginas as well. Also, the new drug you mention is actually called moxifloxacin.