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Sexually Transmitted Disease Facts
Type of Infection: Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV) is caused by one of three strains of Chlamydia trachomatis.
Prevalence of Lymphogranuloma Venereum: LGV infections are common in Asia and Africa and were thought to be relatively rare in the United States. However, beginning in 2003, outbreaks of rectal LGV (proctitis) were documented in several U.S. cities among men who have anal sex (most of whom were also HIV-infected).
Symptoms of Lymphogranuloma Venereum: The primary sore caused by LGV is a small, painless bump at the site of infection. People with LGV commonly fail to notice it initially. Swollen lymph nodes in the area follow a week to a month later and is the most common symptom. A sensation of stiffness and aching in the groin, followed by swelling of the abdomen, may be early indications of infections for most patients. Swelling may go away on its own or proceed to form sores that swell and rupture. These ulcers may remain undetected within the urethra, vagina, or rectum. In patients who get the infection from receptive anal intercourse, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis) can result and may be severe.
Treatment of Lymphogranuloma Venereum: Lymphogranuloma venereum may be confused with chancroid because of the painful swelling. LGV can be cured with antibiotics. However, treatment cannot undo damage done prior to treatment. Sex partners must be examined as soon as possible. For all patients with rectal LGV, HIV testing is essential.
Possible Consequences of STD for the Infected Person: Spreading of the sores may occur with damage to the kidney, liver, or veins. Swelling of the vulva, anus, or rectal tissues may occur. The most serious problems result from rectal involvement and include abscesses in the perineum. Scar tissue in the rectum may develop 1 to 10 years after infection.
Prevention of Lymphogranuloma Venereum: Abstaining from sexual contact with an infected person is the only 100% effective means of prevention. Latex or polyurethane condoms can reduce but not eliminate the risk of contracting LGV as ulcers may be on parts of the genitals not covered by a condom.
Source of Information: JM Marrazzo, F Guest, W Cates, "Reproductive Tract Infections," In Hatcher et al, Contraceptive Technology, Ardent Media, 2007.
Photo Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention, "LGV," STD Clinical Slides, 2003, www.cdc.gov/std/training/clinicalslides.