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What is LGV?
LGV stands for Lymphogranuloma venereum, and is a curable sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. LGV is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are quite different from Chlamydia, but are similar to other STDs that cause lesions and sores. The infection tends to be common among MSM (men who have sex with men), especially those that practice receiving anal intercourse. Recent outbreaks in Europe have raised awareness about the STD in the United States, but the number of cases is unknown since LGV can be easily misdiagnosed. Treatment for an LGV infection includes a strict course of the antibiotic Doxycycline. Women who are pregnant, lactating, or may be pregnant should notify their doctor because an alternate antibiotic treatment is preferred.
How is LGV Transmitted or Spread?
LGV is easily spread from person to person through sexual contact with ulcers, lesions, or non-visible areas where growth of the bacteria may be located, such as the rectum, but the infection can be passed during all methods of sexual contact- oral, anal, and vaginal.
What are the Symptoms of LGV?
LGV tends to produce symptoms that are similar to other STDs and some ulcer conditions; diagnosis of the infection can therefore be difficult. The symptoms rarely occur on the surface of the skin, and can be difficult to see. The infection will cause small lesions around the vagina, rectum, or urethra. After a few days to a month, the infection will cause ulcers at the site of infection.
How to Prevent LGV
How can I prevent a LGV infection? Abstinence is the best way to prevent the transmission of any sexually transmitted disease. If you are sexually active, condoms are a helpful preventative measure if used correctly each time, How To Use A Condom The risk of infection for any STD, including LGV, is significantly lowered if you both you and your partner are only having sex with each other. People who engage in risky sexual behavior (having sex with people they don't know, or don't know very well) are at a much greater risk for contracting STDs. People who regularly use drugs and alcohol are at a higher risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including LGV, because they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Please read more about STD transmission and prevention here.
How to Treat or Cure LGV
Yes LGV is curable. So you ask, how is LGV Treated? LGV is curable. It is a bacterial infection as opposed to a viral STD, it can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe doxycycline for the course of one week. When you receive your prescription, follow the directions carefully. Make sure to finish ALL of your medication, unless a doctor recommends otherwise. Do not share your medication with your partner or anyone else, because you need to take the full course of medication in order to effectively treat your condition. If you still have symptoms after treatment, go back to the doctor as you may have a lingering infection, or you possibly have been misdiagnosed. Your partner needs to go to the doctor and obtain medication as well, for they are most likely infected. It is possible to become infected again from an untreated partner, or a new infected partner. It is also possible to infect someone during your treatment, so avoid sexual contact while you are finishing your medication. Be sure to inform your recent sex partners (within last 60 days) of your diagnosis so that they can receive treatment as well. LGV infection makes an individual more physically susceptible to HIV infection when in contact with the virus. 2 Read more about this phenomenon.
Special note for Women: It is not recommended that women who are pregnant, lactating, or may be pregnant avoid taking Doxycycline, which is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for the treatment of LGV. Notify your doctor when receiving treatment for LGV if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Your doctor will discuss alternate treatment options with you. An antibiotic that is effective and generally safe for pregnant women is Erythromycin.
Special note for HIV positive individuals: Patients who are HIV positive may experience prolonged symptoms because of low immune function. These individuals should received the same treatment as anyone who is HIV negative, but should continue to see their doctor during the course of treatment for additional therapy if necessary.
What should I expect from my doctor?
A commercial test is not widely available for LGV diagnosis. The presence of Chlamydia growth can be confirmed with a test for the growth of bacteria, but the confirmation of LGV infection is left to visual inspection by your health care provider. The development of an approved test for LGV is currently underway in the United States. Your doctor may prescribe the antibiotic Doxycycline to be taken over the course of one week, two times per day. If you are sexually active, try to find a doctor that you are comfortable discussing your sexual lifestyle with. Be honest with them, and they can provide you with guidance and information that is necessary for you to stay safe and healthy.
Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Order Publication Online at www.cdc.gov/std/pubs
CDC-INFO Contact Center
CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
American Social Health Association (ASHA)
P.O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827