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Agent-based modelling study of antimicrobial-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae transmission in men who have sex with men: towards individualised diagnosis and treatment.

Publication date: 

2019-09-03 00:00:00


Sex Health 2019; 16: 514-522.


Zienkiewicz AK, Verschueren van Rees N, Homer M, Ong JJ, Christensen H, Hill D, Looker KJ, Horner P, Hughes G, Turner KME.

Publication type: 



Background: Antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) gonorrhoea is a global public health threat. Discriminatory point-of-care tests (POCT) to detect drug sensitivity are under development, enabling individualised resistance-guided therapy. Methods: An individual-based dynamic transmission model of gonorrhoea infection in MSM living in London has been developed, incorporating ciprofloxacin-sensitive and resistant strains. The time-dependent sexual contact network is captured by periodically restructuring active connections to reflect the transience of contacts. Different strategies to improve treatment selection were explored, including discriminatory POCT and selecting partner treatment based on either the index case or partner susceptibility. Outcomes included population prevalence of gonorrhoea and drug dose counts. Results: It is shown that using POCT to detect ciprofloxacin-sensitive infections could result in a large decrease in ceftriaxone doses (by 70% compared with the reference case in the simulations of this study). It also suggests that ceftriaxone use can be reduced with existing technologies, albeit to a lesser degree; either using index case sensitivity profiles to direct treatment of partners, or testing notified partners with strain discriminatory laboratory tests before treatment, reduced ceftriaxone use in our model (by 27% and 47% respectively). Conclusions: POCT to detect ciprofloxacin-sensitive gonorrhoea are likely to dramatically reduce reliance on ceftriaxone, but requires the implementation of new technology. In the meantime, the proportion of unnecessary ceftriaxone treatment by testing partners before treatment could be reduced significantly. Alternatively, index case sensitivity profiles could be used to select effective treatments for partners.