A sexually transmissible infection (STI) caused by certain strains of chlamydia continues to spread across Europe and North America, amid predictions it will appear in Australia soon.

Lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV, was first reported among gay men in the Netherlands in 2003.

Since then, the infection, whose symptoms include gastrointestinal bleeding, rectal inflammation and swollen lymph glands, has been reported across western Europe, mainly among HIV-positive gay men.

More than 140 cases of LGV have been confirmed in the Netherlands and France. Smaller clusters have been seen in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Spain and Sweden, AIDSmap reported.

The STI, which is curable with antibiotics but in rare cases can be fatal, also continues to spread in the United States and Canada.

Officials in Massachusetts last month confirmed six cases of LGV since January, 365Gay.com reported. The infection has already been identified in gay communities in San Francisco, New York and Atlanta.

Canadian health authorities last week said 16 cases of LGV had been confirmed since January 2004.

So far, no cases of LGV have been recorded in NSW, a spokesperson for NSW Health told Sydney Star Observer.

But health officials and gay men should remain aware of the STI, which may appear in Australia soon, according to Dr Andrew Grulich, associate professor at the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research.

Gay communities internationally are very much in contact with each other. So what happens in an international gay city, somewhere in the world, generally does make its way to Australia, Grulich told the Star.

We saw that with syphilis a couple of years ago, where there were outbreaks of syphilis in several cities in Europe and the US and two to three years later we saw it happen in Australia.

Grulich said he had yet to see any cases of LGV in Australia, but really we would anticipate that it will occur. Gay men should remain aware of LGV and consider being tested for it, he said.

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