February 9, 2005
"LGV was previously hardly ever seen in the Western world,' said Neil McDonald of HPA. "It is endemic in certain areas of Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. What we are seeing now is something that is quite new and is affecting gay men," he said. HPA was able to trace 19 of the infected men, 17 of whom were HIV-positive.
"One of the biggest problems we have is that it doesn't present like a typical [STD] so not only the patients themselves but also their doctors may not realize they have got it," said McDonald.
LGV is a form of chlamydia; its first symptoms usually include inflammation of the rectum; pain, discharge, rectal bleeding and bloody stools are commonly reported, as are genital ulcers. As LGV invades the lymph nodes, patients might notice a painful swelling of the groin. If not treated in time, LGV can cause fever, weight loss, and lesions and permanent scarring of the rectal lining that require surgery. People who think they may be at risk should see their doctor, said McDonald.
The Terrence Higgins Trust is working with key groups of men with HIV to raise awareness about LGV. Men immunosuppressed by HIV infection might be especially vulnerable to LGV infection, said Will Mutland of THT. "We also want to encourage regular screening, not just for LGV but for a range of other [STDs]," he said. The group has created an information leaflet for gay men explaining the risks of LGV.