Donovanosis is a very rare STI, caused by a bacteria, and can be passed on by coming into contact with the infected area of someone wwho has it. There have been two cases in Greater Manchester, but this STI can be prevented by using condoms, and is also easily treated with antibiotics, which you can get by going to a Sexual Health clinic.

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Who is Affected by Donovanosis?

Donovanosis is mainly found in Southern Africa, parts of Brazil and India and in Papua New Guinea. It is incredibly rare in the UK, though there has been a lot of attention around it because there were two cases in Greater Manchester. This can be alarming, but it is important to remember that it is still a very rare STI, and the chances of you getting it are very low.

How is it Transmitted?

Donovanosis can be transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact with ulcers caused by the bacteria.

Condoms, dental dams and fisting and fingering gloves can reduce risk, but if the ulcer is not covered, then it is still possible to get donovanosis.

What are the Symptoms?

Donovanosis causes ulcers, which appear most often around the genitals. They are most commonly found:

  • On the head of the penis
  • On the skin below the head of the penis
  • the labia(lips around the vagina)

These ulcers are typically a "beefy red", and will easily bleed when touched. These ulcers can look different, and can sometimes also have a foul smell. If you notice any of these symptoms, then it is worth going to an STI clinic to get treatment.

If left untreated it can cause scarring, and can also damage your genitals. As the ulcers bleed easily, it can also put you at risk of HIV transimission as well.

Testing and Treatment

Because donovanosis is so rare, Sexual Health clinics do not routinely test for it. If you have recently been to a country or area where donovanosis is more common (Southern Africa, parts of India and Brazil, and Papua New Guinea) then they may test you for it. If you think you have symptoms, then they may do a physical exampination or a biopsy to see if it is donovanosis or something else.

If you have a partner who has tested positive, or if you have clear symptoms, you can begin treatment right away. If they take a biopsy, then they will test for donovanosis, which can take up to three weeks.

Donovanosis is really easy to treat and cure. It is treated with a long course of antibiotics, which you have to take for three weeks, or for longer if you still have some symptoms after that. You should not stop taking your medication until you have ran out, and until you have had an appointment with a doctor where they find no evidence of donovanosis.