Findings determine a new treatment regimen for the most common curable STI

A new study conducted in part at UAB could change the way doctors treat a common sexually transmitted disease.

christina muzny bodyChristina Muzny, M.D.A study recently published in Lancet Infectious Diseases determined that a seven-day dose of metronidazole is the preferred treatment for women with trichomoniasis, the most common curable sexually transmitted infection. For the past three decades, women have been prescribed a single dose of metronidazole, which is now being determined insufficient for treating the STI.

The study was led by an epidemiologist at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, with an associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Infectious Diseases, Christina Muzny, M.D., serving as co-author. UAB was one of three patient sites in the multicenter, open-label, randomized controlled trial.   

Researchers found the recommended single dose of metronidazole is not enough to eliminate trichomoniasis; but rather, a seven-day dose is more efficacious. Trichomoniasis can cause preterm delivery in pregnant women, and babies born to infected mothers are more likely to have low birth weight. The parasite can also increase the risk of getting or spreading HIV.

“With 143 million new cases of trichomoniasis among women being diagnosed each year, understanding the best treatment for trichomoniasis is critical,” Muzny said. “Our hope is that this study will help change treatment recommendations and guidelines on an international scale.”

The researchers recruited more than 600 women for the randomized trial in New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Birmingham, Alabama. Half the women took a single dose of metronidazole, and the other half received treatment over seven days.

Findings showed that women who received multiple doses of the treatment were half as likely to still have the infection after taking all the medication compared to women who took only a single dose.

Muzny says a big component of these findings is educating women with trichomoniasis about the new dosage, as a longer dose time may lead to people not taking the medication the whole time, or even potentially sharing with a partner. 

Moving forward, future studies will need to be conducted to determine whether updated recommendations for men with trichomoniasis are necessary.