The epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections (STI) is constantly evolving, and the mechanisms of infection risk in the oral cavity (OC) are poorly characterized. Evidence indicates that microbial community (microbiota) compositions vary widely between the OC, genitalia and the intestinal and rectal mucosa, and microbiome-associated STI susceptibility may also similarly vary. The opioid misuse epidemic is at an epidemic scale, with >11 million US residents misusing in the past 30 days. Opioids can substantially influence HIV progression, microbiota composition and immune function, and these three factors are all mutually influential via direct and indirect pathways. While many of these pathways have been explored independently, the supporting data are mostly derived from studies of gut and vaginal microbiotas and non-STI infectious agents. Our purpose is to describe what is known about the combination of these pathways, how they may influence microbiome composition, and how resultant oral STI susceptibility may change. A better understanding of how opioid misuse influences oral microbiomes and STI risk may inform better mechanisms for oral STI screening and intervention. Further, the principles of interaction described may well be applied to other aspects of disease risk of other health conditions which may be impacted by the opioid epidemic.
- Oral microbiome
- immune function
- sexually transmitted infection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology