Association between rectal gonorrhoea and HIV incidence in men who have sex with men: a meta-analysis

Deborah Donnell, Kidist Zewdie, Natasha Ratna, Veronica Miller, John Michael Saunders, O. Noel Gill, Valerie Delpech, Hamish Mohammed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Incidence of rectal gonorrhoea (GC) has been hypothesised as a correlate of HIV exposure in prevention trials of men who have sex with men (MSM). High rectal GC incidence in MSM trials of new biomedical prevention drugs may provide supportive evidence for ongoing HIV risk. Empirical evidence of correlation between rectal GC and HIV incidence is needed to assess whether high rectal GC rates reliably correlate with high risk of HIV. METHODS: Rectal GC and HIV are routinely tested in sexual health clinics (SHCs) throughout England. Through routine surveillance data collected at visits to SHCs, we assessed HIV incidence and new rectal GC diagnoses in repeat visits by HIV-negative MSM between 2011 and 2018, predating widespread roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis. Meta-analysis regression assessed population-level association between HIV and rectal GC incidence over time. FINDINGS: Between 2011 and 2018, HIV and rectal GC incidence was assessed in 541 056 HIV-negative MSM attending SHCs in England. HIV incidence among MSM attending SHCs fell from 1.26/100 person-years (PYs) in 2011 to 0.28/100 PYs in 2018. Rectal GC rates increased from 3.5/100 PYs to 11.1/100 PYs over the same period. The rate of HIV incidence decreased by 22.3% for each percent increase in rectal GC (95% CI -30.8 to -14.7, p<0.001). INTERPRETATION: Among the population of MSM attending SHCs in England, rectal GC rates increased substantially while HIV incidence rates decreased between 2011 and 2018. HIV incidence likely decreased through expanded HIV testing, prompt antiretroviral treatment (ART) initiation and increased viral suppression in persons living with HIV, interventions that did not decrease rectal GC. Rectal GC may not be an ideal proxy for HIV incidence in trials, as HIV exposure risk is complex and context dependent, given effective HIV prevention interventions in MSM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-496
Number of pages5
JournalSexually Transmitted Infections
Volume98
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.

Keywords

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • HIV infections
  • men
  • meta-analysis
  • public health

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