Thursday, March 31, 2005

It's news to me that the LGV used to be "gay bowel syndrome." I'm not sure if the Johns Hopkins' doctor is right about this, but it's interesting, to say the least, that "gay bowel syndrome" is back in the US news media.

March 31, 2005
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Cases of an unfamiliar STD rise, especially among gay, bisexual men

By Marie McCullough

Inquirer Staff Writer

A sexually transmitted disease that few American physicians know about is becoming a problem in Europe and the United States, especially among gay and bisexual men, public health officials say.

Lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV, is caused by a particularly invasive type of chlamydia bacteria that commercial lab tests cannot identify. While LGV can be treated with antibiotics, its early symptoms - including constipation, rectal pain and discharge - are easily misdiagnosed.

Left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the bowels and disfigurement of the genitals.

Last November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began trying to raise awareness and evaluate the prevalence of LGV by asking clinicians to report suspected infections to health departments and CDC, even though national reporting is not mandated. Since then, six men, most HIV positive, have been diagnosed by CDC lab analysis - three in San Francisco, one in Atlanta, and two in New York City.

"Getting the word out to health-care providers and patients is really important," epidemiologist Catherine McLean of the CDC's STD prevention division said yesterday.

The New York City cases, announced in February, prompted Philadelphia's Department of Public Health to send an advisory to AIDS prevention groups and clinics.

No cases have been found yet in Philadelphia, health department spokesman Jeff Moran said. But "with travel, nothing stays in one place very long," said Gary Bell, executive director of Philadelphia-based BEBASHI (Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health Issues), who attended a health department meeting last month at which LGV was discussed.

Bell cautioned against sensationalizing or hyping the threat of LGV, but said raising awareness is prudent because it "is not on the radar screen."

Identified by pathologists almost 100 years ago, LGV blipped onto this country's public health radar screen in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it was called "gay bowel syndrome," said Johns Hopkins University infectious disease expert Jonathan Zenilman.


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