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Asymptomatic Urethritis Is Common and Is Associated With Characteristics That Suggest Sexually Transmitted Etiology

Gillespie, Catherine W. PhD*†; Manhart, Lisa E. PhD†‡; Lowens, M. Sylvan PA-C§¶; Golden, Matthew R. MD†§¶

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: March 2013 - Volume 40 - Issue 3 - p 271–274
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e31827c9e42

We evaluated 236 asymptomatic men for urethritis, assessed sexual behaviors, and tested urine for pathogens. Asymptomatic urethritis was present in 38 (16.1%). Of these, nearly half (42.1%) had a previously unrecognized discharge on examination; only 18.4% had a known pathogen. Correlates included black race, anal intercourse, and number of sex partners.

Urethral inflammation was detected among 16% of asymptomatic men in this study. Behavioral correlates suggest sexually transmitted etiology, yet most patients were tested negative for known sexually transmitted pathogens.

From the *Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC; †Center for AIDS and STD, Departments of ‡Epidemiology §Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; and ¶Public Health–Seattle and King County STD Clinic, Seattle, WA

Supported by the University of Washington Sexually Transmitted Infections and Topical Microbicides Cooperative Research Center (Grant No. NIH/NIAID U19 AI31448) and by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (Grant No. NIH/NIAID R01 AI072728). Dr Gillespie was funded by a University of Washington STD/AIDS Research Training Fellowship grant (Grant No. NIH/NIAID T32 AI07140).

Previous presentations: This work was presented, in part, at the 2010 CDC National STD Prevention Conference; Atlanta, GA, USA; March 8–11, 2010 (Abstract No. B3c).

Conflicts of interest: There are no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Catherine W. Gillespie, PhD, Children’s National Medical Center, Children’s Research Institute, Center for Translational Science, 111 Michigan Ave NW, Washington, DC 20010. E-mail:

Received for publication July 23, 2012, and accepted November 2, 2012.

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© Copyright 2013 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association