Is it time to move to nucleic acid amplification tests screening for pharyngeal and rectal gonorrhoea in men who have sex with men to improve gonorrhoea control?

Sex Health. 2011 Mar;8(1):9-11. doi: 10.1071/SH10134.


The use of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), as well as or in preference to culture for non-genital sites is now recommended both in Australia and overseas because of their greater sensitivity and improved specificity. A survey of 22 Australian sexual health clinics who each year test over 14500 men who have sex with men (MSM) show that culture remains the predominate method for detecting gonorrhoea at pharyngeal (64%) and rectal (73%) sites. This editorial discusses the potential disadvantages of using culture over NAAT in relation to optimal gonorrhoea control among MSM and advocates that significantly improved control would be achieved by moving to NAAT with the proviso that culture samples are taken wherever possible on NAAT-positive samples and from clients with urethritis to ensure continued surveillance for antimicrobial resistance.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Culture Media
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis*
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology
  • Health Services Research
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / isolation & purification*
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques / methods*
  • Rectal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Rectal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rectal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Rectum / microbiology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Young Adult


  • Culture Media