Everything You Need To Know About That So-Called ‘New’ STD

By: Rachael Rettner
Published: 11/18/2015 09:27 AM EST on LiveScience

A little-known sexually transmitted disease that has attracted more attention lately may actually be fairly common, according to a new study.

The study found that the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium, which is thought to be sexually transmitted, infects more than 1 percent of people ages 16 to 44 in the United Kingdom. That comes out to about 250,000 people, according to U.K. census data. Studies in the United States have found that a similar percentage of people here are infected with M.genitalium.

That makes M. genitalium a more common sexually transmitted disease (STD) than gonorrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Hidden STD Epidemic: 110 Million Infections in the US]

Here’s what you need to know about Mycoplasma genitalium:

Is this a new STD?

Some news outlets have described M. genitalium as a “new” sexually transmitted infection, but the bacteria were first discovered in 1980. At this time, researchers didn’t have the right types of test to study M. genitalium, so the connection between M. genitalium and sexual activity came a little later — around the mid-1990s, said Lisa Manhart, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the new study, but has researched M. genitalium. For example, early studies found that people who tested positive for M. genitalium often had sexual partners who were infected with the disease as well.

The new study adds to the evidence that M. genitalium is an STD, because it found that the infection was more common in people who had at least four new sexual partners in the past year than in people who had one or fewer new partners in the past year. In addition, people were more likely to have M. genitalium if they had unprotected sex, —> Read More