New York City Health Officials Urge MSM To Practice Safe Sex, Abstinence After Two Local Men Diagnosed With Rare STD
New York City health officials on Wednesday urged men who have sex with men to practice safe sex or abstinence after two local men were diagnosed with a rare sexually transmitted disease called lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV, the Long Island Newsday reports (Taylor, Long Island Newsday, 2/3). San Francisco public health officials in December 2004 issued a warning about LGV, which had been diagnosed in four MSM. At least 90 MSM in the Netherlands have been diagnosed with LGV, and officials have reported other cases in Belgium, France, Sweden and Britain. The infection is caused by a strain of the bacteria that causes chlamydia and can be cured with antibiotics. LGV is associated with genital ulcers and flu-like symptoms and can cause severe gastrointestinal distress. CDC officials in November 2004 warned doctors that LGV had been spreading among men who have unprotected sex with men in Europe and could appear among such men in the United States. LGV usually is seen in developing countries -- such as those in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America -- and most often is diagnosed among heterosexuals, in whom it causes genital lesions and swelling in the lymph glands in the groin. Men who experience rectal symptoms -- including bleeding of the rectum and colon -- most likely contract LGV through unprotected anal intercourse. Health professionals are concerned because the rectal inflammation and ulceration sometimes caused by LGV could increase the risk of transmitting or contracting HIV and other bloodborne diseases. Although some of the four San Francisco men who were diagnosed with LGV also are HIV-positive, officials say that HIV-positive patients are not thought to be at a higher risk of LGV complications. Treatment for LGV requires a three-week course of antibiotics, and successful treatment is possible if the disease is caught early (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/22/04).
"LGV is a serious condition and its emergence in New York City reflects continuing high levels of unsafe sexual activity among men who have sex with men," Dr. Thomas Frieden, commissioner of the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said at a news conference on Wednesday, Reuters reports (Reuters, 2/2). He added, "Medical providers who care for gay and bisexual men should be alert for symptoms of LGV" (Long Island Newsday, 2/3). "It is also critical for gay and bisexual men to minimize risky sexual behaviors and practice safer sex -- including limiting the number of sex partners and using condoms every time you have sex -- to help prevent the spread of this illness and HIV/AIDS," Frieden said, the New York Times reports (Santora, New York Times, 2/3). Dr. Susan Blank, the city health department's assistant commissioner for STD control, said that the department is treating the two New York cases as an "outbreak" in order to prevent the further spread of what she called "a bad disease," the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Milton, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/2).