A new study found that maybe more than a hundred thousand people could be unwitting carriers of a recently discovered sexually transmitted infection (STI) known as Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) infection.
MG has been around for more than 30 years, and it is thought that at least one percent of the population in the UK could potentially be carriers of the disease.
Because of this, people who have MG are less likely to be diagnosed.
"MG was identified in over 1% of the population aged 16-44, and among men was most prevalent in 25-34-year-olds, who would not be included in STI prevention measures aimed at young people," study researchers wrote in their paper about the disease. The study's findings are published on the International Journal of Epidemiology.
The study was published after warnings of an outbreak of a "super gonorrhea" in England which caused a national alert.
MG is an infection caused by bacteria of the same name that live in the urinary tract and genital areas of humans. While it was suspected that it was passed through sexual contact, this was only confirmed by the researchers' findings.
These findings suggest that those engaging in unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners are most at risk for acquiring the infection. The study also found that the condition is prevalent among blacks, in women 16 to 19 years old and men 25 to 34 years old.
Unfortunately, most of the infected are unaware of this because the infection rarely, if ever, causes symptoms. Possible symptoms of the condition include vaginal bleeding after sex and possibly other signs of STD. There are so far no known long term effects of the infection.
"Over half of women did not report any symptoms, but among those who did, bleeding after sex was most common," said one of the study's lead authors, Dr. Pam Sonneberg. "Therefore, testing only people who have symptoms would miss the majority of infections."
People suspecting that they could have GM or other STIs should visit a healthcare provider or a sexual health clinic to get checked. High risk people like those with multiple or frequently changing partners as well as those who do not practice safe sex should also get checked.
Though testing for MG is still not a commonly carried out diagnostic test. The National Health Service (NHS) is still debating on whether MG should also be screened for like other STIs.