What Is the Optimal Testing Strategy for Oropharyngeal Neisseria gonorrhoeae in Men Who Have Sex With Men? Comparing Selective Testing Versus Routine Universal Testing From Dutch Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinic Data (2008-2017): Comparing selective testing versus routine universal testing from Dutch STI clinic data (2008-2017)

Geneviève A F S van Liere*, Nicole H T M Dukers-Muijrers, Sophie Kuizenga Wessel, Hannelore M Götz, Christian J P A Hoebe

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background. Most oropharyngeal Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections are asymptomatic, and many infections remain undetected, creating a reservoir for ongoing transmission and potential drug resistance. It is unclear what the optimal testing policy is in men who have sex with men (MSM), as routine universal testing data are lacking.

Methods. Surveillance data from all Dutch sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics between 2008 and 2017 were used (N = 271 242 consultations). Oropharyngeal testing policy was defined as routine universal testing when >= 85% of consultations included oropharyngeal testing or as selective testing (

Results. Routine universal testing was performed in 90% (238 619/265 127) of consultations. Prevalence was higher using routine universal testing (5.5%; 95% CI, 5.4-5.6; 12 769/233 476) than with selective testing (4.7%; 95% CI, 4.4-5.0; 799/17 079; P < .001). Proportions of oropharyngeal-only infections were 55% and 47%, respectively. Independent risk factors were age 43 years), being notified for any STI (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.9-2.1), concurrent urogenital N. gonorrhoeae (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 2.1-2.7), and concurrent anorectal N. gonorrhoeae (OR, 11.4; 95% CI, 10.6-12.3). When using any of the risk factors age, notified, or oral sex as testing indicators, 98.4% (81 022/82 332) of MSM would be tested, finding 99.5% (4814/4838) of infections.

Conclusions. Routine universal testing detected more oropharyngeal N. gonorrhoeae infections than selective testing, of which more than half would be oropharyngeal only. Using independent risk factors as testing indicator is not specific. Therefore, routine universal oropharyngeal testing in MSM is feasible and warranted, as currently advised in most guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-951
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
Early online date26 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2020


  • MSM
  • oropharyngeal
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • oral
  • testing policy

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