First Cases of Rare STD Reported Among MSM in United Kingdom
The first cases of a rare sexually transmitted disease called lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV, have been reported in the United Kingdom, with health officials reporting 34 cases among men who have unprotected sex with men by mid-February, according to an article published in BMJ's journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, London's Daily Mail reports (Daily Mail, 3/31). At least 90 MSM in the Netherlands have been diagnosed with LGV, and officials have reported cases in Belgium, France, Sweden and Britain. CDC officials in November 2004 warned doctors that LGV had been spreading among MSM in Europe and could appear among MSM in the United States. In December 2004, San Francisco public health officials issued a warning about LGV and announced that four MSM there had been diagnosed with the infection. In February, New York City health officials issued a warning following two local cases among MSM.
LGV is caused by a strain of the bacteria that causes the STD chlamydia and can be cured with antibiotics. LGV is associated with genital ulcers and flu-like symptoms and can cause severe gastrointestinal distress. 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, 2/3). "It is likely that LGV has been present for some time in men who have sex with men in the United Kingdom, with many cases going undiagnosed," the report's authors conclude (McCullough, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/31).