Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is caused by serotypes L1, L2 and L3 of Chlamydia trachomatis and is sexually transmitted. It can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral and anal intercourse.

Pathogen and transmission

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is caused by serotypes L1, L2 and L3 of Chlamydia trachomatis (in the majority of cases by the gene variant L2b) and is sexually transmitted. LGV is very rare in the general population. An epidemic recurrence of LGV has recently been observed in men who have sex with men (MSM), mainly in HIV-positive MSM. LGV can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral and anal intercourse.

Clinical picture

Infections with LGV are frequently asymptomatic. If the infection is symptomatic, painless ulcers appear in a primary stage where the bacteria entered the mucosa and, depending on the area, often remain undetected. In the second stage the lymph nodes usually swell up, accompanied by pains and fever as well as bleeding and purulent discharge. In the absence of timely treatment, the infection can cause severe lesions in the anus or another affected body part which require surgical intervention. The infection can be treated with antibiotics.

Frequency and distribution

In recent decades LGV has principally been observed in the subtropical and tropical regions of Africa, India, South East Asia, the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. Since 2003, Western high-income countries, including Switzerland, have experienced an epidemic recurrence of LGV in MSM.

Prevention

Condoms and other safer sex measures reduce the risk of getting infected with LGV. Therefore:  

1. Vaginal and anal sex with a condom
2. And because everybody loves different things: do the personalised safer sex check at lovelife.ch

But an infection is nevertheless possible, and it’s important to detect it early. Once an infection is diagnosed, all sexual partners must be examined and, if necessary, treated. Infectiousness does not cease during treatment. It would therefore be best to forgo intercourse for the duration of the antibiotic treatment. If that is not possible, the use of condoms is imperative.

People with changing or multiple simultaneous sexual partners should talk to their doctor or another specialist about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and get advice on whether tests may be necessary.

Further Information

National Programme for HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections (NPHS)

The NPHS aims to reduce the number of new infections with HIV and other STIs and to avoid consequences with an adverse effect on health. Information on the programme can be found here.

Last modification 17.08.2018

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