Treatment of asymptomatic rectal Chlamydia trachomatis: is single-dose azithromycin effective?

Int J STD AIDS. 2009 Jan;20(1):16-8. doi: 10.1258/ijsa.2008.008211.


Rectal infection with Chlamydia trachomatis affects approximately 7% of men having sex with men (MSM), attending departments of Genito-Urinary (GU) Medicine [Manavi et al. Int J STD AIDS 2004;15:162-4], and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) guidelines for the treatment of uncomplicated genital C. trachomatis infection include 1 g of single-dose oral azithromycin as a recommended regimen [BASHH 2006]. A retrospective analysis was performed on case-notes from all patients diagnosed with rectal C. trachomatis infection in the department of GU Medicine, Edinburgh for the one-year period from 1 June 2005. Of 101 new episodes of rectal chlamydial infection, only 9% were associated with anorectal symptoms. Excluding these, 85% of asymptomatic patients were treated with a single dose of azithromycin 1 g orally, with a calculated treatment failure rate of 13% (nine of 68). This suggests that single-dose azithromycin may be a less than effective treatment in asymptomatic rectal C. trachomatis infection. The potential treatment failure rate with this regimen emphasizes the need for a test of cure at the appropriate interval following treatment to ensure clearance of infection.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Azithromycin* / administration & dosage
  • Azithromycin* / therapeutic use
  • Chlamydia Infections / drug therapy*
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / physiopathology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rectal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Rectal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rectal Diseases / microbiology
  • Rectal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Azithromycin