Background: A gonococcal vaccine is urgently needed due to increasing gonorrhea incidence and emerging multidrug-resistant gonococcal strains worldwide. Men who have sex with men (MSM) have among the highest incidences of gonorrhea and may be a key target population for vaccination when available.
Methods: An individual-based, anatomical site-specific mathematical model was used to simulate Neisseria gonorrhoeae transmission in a population of 10 000 MSM. The impact of vaccination on gonorrhea prevalence was assessed.
Results: With a gonococcal vaccine of 100% or 50% protective efficacy, gonorrhea prevalence could be reduced by 94% or 62%, respectively, within 2 years if 30% of MSM are vaccinated on presentation for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. Elimination of gonorrhea is possible within 8 years with vaccines of ≥ 50% efficacy lasting 2 years, providing a booster vaccination is available every 3 years on average. A vaccine's impact may be reduced if it is not effective at all anatomical sites.
Conclusions: Our study indicates that with a vaccine of modest efficacy and an immunization strategy that targets MSM presenting for STI screening, the prevalence of gonorrhea in this population could be rapidly and substantially reduced.
Keywords: Neisseria gonorrhoeae; gonococcal vaccine; gonorrhea; individual-based model; mathematical model; men who have sex with men (MSM); sexually transmitted infection.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.