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11 Jul, 2018 11:59

‘Pack those condoms’: Sex health docs warn rare STI could become ‘superbug’

‘Pack those condoms’: Sex health docs warn rare STI could become ‘superbug’

A rare sexually-transmitted infection (STI) could spark a “public health emergency” within 15 years if not taken seriously, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has warned.

The Mycoplasma Genitalium (MG) bacterium currently only affects 1-2 percent of the public, but BASHH warned in a new set of guidelines it could become a superbug in 15 years’ time if proper testing and treatment fails to be provided by local health services.

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MG can cause the inflammation of reproductive organs for women, which could ultimately lead to infertility. Symptoms also include pain during sex and post-coital bleeding. For men it causes inflammation of the urethra and could lead to watery discharges from the penis.

Dr Peter Greenhouse, a sexual consultant in Bristol and BASHH member, told the BBC, “it's yet another good reason to pack the condoms for the summer holidays - and actually use them."

The guidelines note people can be tested for MG through a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), but a BASHH survey of 125 out of 152 public health commissioners in England found only one in 10 plan to fund the testing for MG in the next financial year.

There is also concern the STI may grow resistant to antibiotics if not treated correctly. As it is asymptomatic in the majority of cases, it can easily be missed or mistaken for chlamydia.  

"Our guidelines recommend that patients with symptoms are correctly diagnosed using an accurate MG test, treated correctly then followed up to make sure they are cured,” said Dr Paddy Horner, consultant senior lecturer in sexual health at Bristol University and co-author of the new guidelines.

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