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Doctors worry rare STD could facilitate HIV infections

Doctors worry rare STD could facilitate HIV infections

On Friday in Amsterdam, the Netherlands's National Institute for Public Health said that an outbreak of a rare sexually transmitted disease among gay and bisexual men might also facilitate the transmission of HIV. Approximately 80% of the 92 people infected with lymphogranuloma venereum--a rare form of chlamydia--in the Netherlands were also infected with HIV, said Marita van de Laar, an institute spokesperson. The disease causes ulcers in the rectum. While it can be treated with antibiotics, scientists believe the associated bleeding may make HIV transmission easier, said Van de Laar. LGV is normally found in tropical climates, with only one to three cases reported each year in the Netherlands. Five LGV cases have been reported in Belgium, and 85 cases have been reported in France since the beginning of 2004, said Van de Laar. Other countries were alerted to the disease, and also cases have been reported in Sweden and the United Kingdom. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a warning after a single case was reported. Van de Laar, who is researching the outbreaks, said she was unsure of what caused the recent LGV rise. The CDC in late October urged doctors and clinics across the nation to be prepared to diagnose and treat gay and bisexual men infected with LGV. Although LGV can be cured by a three-week course of antibiotics, U.S. health officials could be hard-pressed to keep a lid on the spread of the infection because it is uncommon in industrialized nations and easily misdiagnosed. Efforts to combat the disease also are complicated by the tendency of some gay and bisexual men to engage in high-risk sexual behavior. (AP and Reuters)

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