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New thinking on gonorrhoea control in MSM: are antiseptic mouthwashes the answer?

Fairley, Christopher, K.a,b; Zhang, Leia,b,c; Chow, Eric, P.F.a,b

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: February 2018 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 45–49
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000421

Purpose of review The rate of gonorrhoea is rising and is much higher in men who have sex with men (MSM) than heterosexuals. The purpose of this review was to describe research supporting a new paradigm of transmission of gonorrhoea in MSM and interventions that may result from this.

Recent findings Evidence is accumulating that gonorrhoea in MSM is transmitted differently than previously thought and that asymptomatic sites of infection may play a major role in the persistent of gonorrhoea at a population level. Saliva commonly contains gonorrhoea, and saliva is commonly used during sexual acts. Both in-vitro, in-vivo studies have suggested that antibacterial mouthwash may reduce gonorrhoea at the oropharynx. A recently published mathematical model also suggests that if mouthwash were effective, it would result in considerable declines in the community prevalence in MSM.

Summary A newly suggested paradigm for the transmission of gonorrhoea in MSM could potentially offer a simple condom-free control strategy. But considerable more research is required before it could be recommended even if it were shown to be effective in a clinical trial.

aMelbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health

bCentral Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

cSchool of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Correspondence to Professor Christopher K. Fairley, PhD, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, 580 Swanston Street, Carlton, VIC 3053, Australia. Tel: +61 39341 6241; fax: +61 39341 6269; e-mail:

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