Optimizing Screening for Anorectal, Pharyngeal, and Urogenital Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae Infections in At-Risk Adolescents and Young Adults in New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, United States

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Nov 2;73(9):e3201-e3209. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1838.


Background: Public health organizations have inconsistent recommendations for screening adolescents and young adults for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections. Guidelines suggest different combinations of anorectal, pharyngeal, and urogenital testing based on age, sex, and sexual activity. Further evaluation of how identity and behaviors impact the anatomic distribution of C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae infection is needed to optimize future screening practices.

Methods: We assessed the positivity of C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae infections at different anatomic sites in a cohort of at-risk sexually active adolescents and young adults aged 12-24 years in New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California. Participants were tested for C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae at 3 sites (anorectum, pharynx, and urethral/cervix) every 4 months using self-collected swabs. We stratified anatomic distributions of infection into 4 gender and sexual behavior categories: (1) cisgender men who have sex with men and transgender women (MSMTW); (2) cisgender heterosexual males; (3) cisgender heterosexual females; and (4) gender minorities assigned female at birth.

Results: While three-site testing detected all infections, two-site (anorectum and urethra/cervix) testing identified 92%-100% of C. trachomatis or N. gonorrhoeae infections in participants assigned female at birth and cisgender heterosexual males. For MSMTW, two-site anorectal and pharyngeal testing vs single-site anorectal testing increased the proportion of individuals with either infection from 74% to 93%.

Conclusions: Sexual behavior and gender identity may influence detection of C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae infections at specific anatomic testing sites. Testing guidelines should incorporate sexual behavior and gender identity.

Clinical trials registration: NCT03134833.

Keywords: Chlamydia trachomatis; Neisseria gonorrhoeae; adolescents; anatomic distribution; screening practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chlamydia Infections* / diagnosis
  • Chlamydia Infections* / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Gonorrhea* / diagnosis
  • Gonorrhea* / epidemiology
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Los Angeles
  • Louisiana
  • Male
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • New Orleans
  • Pharynx
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • United States
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03134833