Detection of Chlamydia trachomatis in rectal specimens in women and its association with anal intercourse: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Objectives Chlamydia trachomatis is the most commonly diagnosed bacterial STI. Lack of prevalence and risk factor data for rectal chlamydia in women has testing and treatment implications, as azithromycin (a first-line urogenital chlamydia treatment) may be less effective for rectal chlamydia. We conducted a systematic review of studies on women in high-income countries to estimate rectal chlamydia prevalence, concurrency with urogenital chlamydia and associations with reported anal intercourse (AI).
Design Systematic review and four meta-analyses conducted using random-effects modelling.
Results Fourteen eligible studies were identified, all among diverse populations attending sexual health services. Among routine clinic-attending women, summary rectal chlamydia positivity was 6.0% (95% CI 3.2% to 8.9%); summary concurrent rectal chlamydia infection was 68.1% in those who tested positive for urogenital chlamydia (95% CI 56.6% to 79.6%); and of those who tested negative for urogenital chlamydia, 2.2% (95% CI 0% to 5.2%) were positive for rectal chlamydia. Reported AI was not associated with rectal chlamydia (summary risk ratio 0.90; 95% CI 0.75 to 1.10).
Conclusions High levels of rectal chlamydia infection have been shown in women with urogenital chlamydia infection. The absence of association between reported AI and rectal chlamydia suggests AI is not an adequate indicator for rectal testing. Further work is needed to determine policy and practice for routine rectal testing in women.