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chlamydia strain spreads among gay men

chlamydia strain spreads among gay men

U.S. officials report 80 confirmed LGV cases, virtually all among gay men

Study data presented at last week's National STD Prevention Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., show that a rare strain of chlamydia called Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV) continues to spread in the United States and other wealthy countries, but new cases have been limited almost exclusively to sexually active gay men. There have been about 80 confirmed LGV cases reported in the United States over the past three years, but because the sexually transmitted disease is difficult to diagnose, government health officials say it's possible there have been hundreds of undiagnosed cases in the country.

Diagnosing LGV requires a complex genetic test, which can take days to produce results. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently has a test that produces results in only a few hours, but its use is limited to only CDC labs. Because diagnosis takes such a long time, researchers say physicians treating patients with any symptoms of the STD--particularly gay male patients--should begin treatment right away before the test results confirm the infection.

Symptoms of the STD include cramping, inflammation of the rectum and anus, genital and rectal ulcers, and bleeding. Left untreated, LGV can cause permanent genital and rectal scarring. Severe cases can cause a fatal infection of the lining of the brain. The STD is treatable with antibiotics, chiefly doxycycline, but because it is so virulent, it requires a three-week course of drugs, much longer than standard chlamydia treatment.

LGV is relatively common in areas of Asia, Africa, and South America but rare in developed nations. However, the STD was reported among gay men in the Netherlands in 2004. Since then, it has been diagnosed among gay men in several European countries and Canada as well as in several U.S. cities. Health officials believe most U.S. cases of the STD have been linked with unprotected anal sex.

Because the STD causes open sores and bleeding, health officials say LGV infection significantly boosts the risks for HIV infection. (The Advocate)

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