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<jats:sec><jats:title>Objective</jats:title><jats:p>We aimed to characterise gonorrhoea transmission patterns in a diverse urban population by linking genomic, epidemiological and antimicrobial susceptibility data.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Methods</jats:title><jats:p><jats:italic>Neisseria gonorrhoeae</jats:italic> isolates from patients attending sexual health clinics at Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK, during an 11-month period underwent whole-genome sequencing and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. We combined laboratory and patient data to investigate the transmission network structure.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Results</jats:title><jats:p>One hundred and fifty-eight isolates from 158 patients were available with associated descriptive data. One hundred and twenty-nine (82%) patients identified as male and 25 (16%) as female; four (3%) records lacked gender information. Self-described ethnicities were: 51 (32%) English/Welsh/Scottish; 33 (21%) white, other; 23 (15%) black British/black African/black, other; 12 (8%) Caribbean; 9 (6%) South Asian; 6 (4%) mixed ethnicity; and 10 (6%) other; data were missing for 14 (9%). Self-reported sexual orientations were 82 (52%) men who have sex with men (MSM); 49 (31%) heterosexual; 2 (1%) bisexual; data were missing for 25 individuals. Twenty-two (14%) patients were HIV positive. Whole-genome sequence data were generated for 151 isolates, which linked 75 (50%) patients to at least one other case. Using sequencing data, we found no evidence of transmission networks related to specific ethnic groups (p=0.64) or of HIV serosorting (p=0.35). Of 82 MSM/bisexual patients with sequencing data, 45 (55%) belonged to clusters of ≥2 cases, compared with 16/44 (36%) heterosexuals with sequencing data (p=0.06).</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Conclusion</jats:title><jats:p>We demonstrate links between 50% of patients in transmission networks using a relatively small sample in a large cosmopolitan city. We found no evidence of HIV serosorting. Our results do not support assortative selectivity as an explanation for differences in gonorrhoea incidence between ethnic groups.</jats:p></jats:sec>

Original publication




Journal article


Sexually Transmitted Infections



Publication Date