Donovanosis is another name for Granuloma Inguinale. About 100 cases are reported in the United States annually. It is basically a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacterium known as Klebsiella granulomatis. Klebsiella's former name is Calymmatobacterium granulomatis.

Granuloma inguinale is usually associated with other sexually transmitted infections and is a disease condition that commonly affects the genitals and the anal region, making those areas to be ulcerative with lesions. These lesions or ulcers could progressively expand and destroy the skin tissues they affect.

Granuloma inguinale is contracted and spread through sexual intercourse and can also be contracted and transmitted through an infected birth canal (vagina). Since children, men and women can be infected with this disease condition, it becomes very important for sexually active people – teenagers and adults alike – to be very mindful and careful of their choices in that regard.

Symptoms of Granuloma inguinale

  • Sores or ulcers on the genitals and anal region.
  • Small, red bumps on or around the genitals and anus. The bumps can appear on the mouth following oral sexual contact.
  • These bumps can spread and attack or erode surrounding tissues. Thereafter, these tissues wear away, and the bumps turn pink or light-red. They become raised nodes and feel like velvet when touched. These bumps do not give pains, but they can bleed on forceful contact.
  • The tissue erosion continues and shallow ulcers are formed which will spread from the genitals, anus, and thighs, to the lower abdomen. Surrounding the ulcers are lines of granulated tissue.
  • Foul smell follows the ulcer.
  • The ulcers could become deep when the disease progresses.
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Those at risk of suffering from Granuloma inguinale are:

  • People who have sexual contact with persons from countries where the disease is most prevalent. Those countries include southeast India, New Guinea, Guyana, parts of Australia, parts of Brazil, parts of South Africa.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Persons between the ages of 20 and 40.

Diagnosis Of Granuloma Inguinale

It is difficult to diagnose this disease condition in its early stages because there may not be obvious lesions or ulcers. Only the presence of ulcers that do not heal after a long time could make a doctor suspect Granuloma inguinale.

To diagnose, a doctor performs a punch biopsy by removing a small area of the ulcer with a circular blade. The small area of the ulcer collected will be tested for the bacterium, Klebsiella granulomatis.

Apart from making a biopsy, scrapes of the lesion from the ulcer can be collected for tests, including running the standard Nucleic Acid Amplification Test.

Treatment for Granuloma Inguinale

To treat, antibiotics are used. These antibiotics target Klebsiella granulomatis. The first-line drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is Azithromycin. Other drugs for the treatment of Granuloma inguinale are:

  • Doxycycline
  • Erythromycin
  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole

In pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, erythromycin base or erythromycin ethylsuccinate is recommended.

These antibiotics should be given for at least 3 weeks, or until all signs of the disease have disappeared.

Complications from untreated Granuloma inguinale include:

  • Loss of genital function from genital damage
  • Skin discoloration
  • Co-infection with other sexually transmitted infections

Prevention of Granuloma Inguinale

Getting tested, and having your partner tested regularly. Before having a new partner, have both of you screened for the disease or any other STD of concern. Having a home test kit is one ideal measure you can put in place to ensure that you can get tested on your own terms and discreetly too.

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This recommendation becomes especially important given the huge number of folks who are shy or afraid of visiting hospitals or STD test centers. While some are scared of getting bad news, others simply want to stay away from any form of stigmatization if or when they are confirmed to be infected. Both cases are wrong. But if that’s the situation, a home test kit might just come to the rescue.

The second important measure is to imbibe safe sexual behaviors. While there are antibiotics that can treat this terrible disease condition, practicing safe sex would ensure you do not get infected in the first place.

This can be achieved by sticking to, and remaining faithful, to only one single sex partner. Also, utilizing condoms in situations where one is not sure of the STD status of a new partner is also crucial. Furthermore, having heart-to-heart conversations with your partner, after treatment, to ensure that the disease does not reoccur and is not transmitted further is an ideal thing to do.

Lastly, do not fail to have routine checks on your sexual health status – whether infected with an STD or not!