Shigellosis is a nasty infection which can be passed on during sex and to which HIV-positive gay men are especially vulnerable. It is a bacterial infection that can cause severe dysentery. Historically, cases in the UK have been associated with travel to low-income countries with poor hygiene. It is highly infectious and has very unpleasant symptoms, including fever, severe bloody diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. But in recent years there have been more cases of shigellosis in people who have not recently been abroad than in people who have probably acquired it during travel. Moreover one third of people with shigellosis and no recent foreign travel are HIV-positive gay men. Many of the men who have had shigellosis infection have had large numbers of sexual partners and were involved in the chemsex scene.

Shigellosis can cause stomach pain and watery diarrhoea. More serious cases can involve severe diarrhoea, which can contain blood or mucus, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and a fever.

If you have these kind of gastrointestinal problems and you could have acquired an infection during sex, make sure you are seen by a doctor who is familiar with shigellosis. The doctor also needs to know about your sexual practices – otherwise they may not check for shigellosis. Doctors in sexual health and HIV clinics are more likely to be aware of this infection being sexually transmitted than GPs.

The full article can be read here.

For more information on this topic, read NAM’s factsheet Shigellosis.