Extragenital Gonorrhoea in Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Retrospective Study in a STI Clinic in Lisbon, Portugal

Margarida Moura Valejo Coelho, Eugénia Matos-Pires, Vasco Serrão, Ana Rodrigues, Cândida Fernandes


Introduction: Recent studies worldwide reveal a significant prevalence of extragenital infections by Neisseria gonorrhoeae among men who have sex with men. We aimed to analyse the frequency and characteristics of extragenital gonococcal infections diagnosed in men who have sex with men in a walk-in Sexually Transmitted Infection clinic in Lisbon, Portugal.
Material and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, retrospective study of the anorectal and/or oropharyngeal Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections in men who have sex with men, diagnosed in our Sexually Transmitted Infection clinic between January 2014 and December 2016.
Results: We found extragenital infection in 87 cases of gonorrhoea identified in men who have sex with men in this period, including: 49 cases of anorectal disease, 9 of oropharyngeal disease, 13 cases of infection at both extragenital sites, and 16 of simultaneous extragenital and urogenital gonorrhoea. Patients’ ages ranged from 17 to 64 years (median: 28 years). Forty-seven (54%) of the patients did not present with any extragenital symptoms. Thirty (35%) were human immunodeficiency virus-1-positive.
Discussion: Since most extragenital Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections are asymptomatic, they may be missed and go untreated unless actively investigated. Current international guidelines recommend the screening of gonorrhoea at extragenital sites in men who have sex with men because anorectal and oropharyngeal infections constitute a potential disease reservoir, and may facilitate transmission and/or acquisition of human immunodeficiency virus infection.
Conclusion: Our results highlight the relevance of testing men who have sex with men for Neisseria gonorrhoeae at extragenital sites, regardless of the existence of local complaints. The implementation of adequate screening programmes in Portugal should be considered. We also reinforce the need to raise awareness in the population regarding the adoption of prophylactic measures against transmission of sexually transmitted infections during anal and/or oral sexual exposure.


Gonorrhea; Homosexuality, Male; Neisseria gonorrhoeae; Portugal

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