This drug-resistant sexually transmitted infection is behaving like a superbug and researchers estimate as many as 400,000 Australians may be carrying it. You probably haven’t heard of mycoplasma genitalium, or MG and, until recently, very few clinics, even sexual health specialists, could test for it. Researchers say it carries many of the same health risks as chlamydia and studies have estimated it has a prevalence of 1 to 3 per cent of the population in high income countries, including Australia.
Testing has been limited to research laboratories but that looks set to change in Australia, which recently became one of the first countries to approve commercial tests for MG.
The Australian creator and sponsor of one of the tests, NSW-based SpeeDx, which received approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration in January – hopes it will be included in routine sexual health screening in the future.
MG was first discovered in the early 1980s but is still listed as “recently identified” in the Australian STI management guidelines for use in primary care and considered an “emerging issue” by the US Centers for Disease Control.
“Many doctors don’t really know about it, most doctors aren’t testing for it, it’s extraordinarily unrecognised,” said Catriona Bradshaw, a sexual heath academic at Monash University and senior clinician at The Alfred hospital’s Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.
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