Vaginal infection may increase HIV risk

August 1st, 2008 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 1 (IANS) A common vaginal infection may expose women to greater risk of HIV, according to a study by North Carolina University. Analysis of 23 published studies, including data from more than 30,700 women worldwide, showed that women with bacterial vaginosis, afflicting those in reproductive age the most, were more likely to be infected with HIV.

The association between bacterial vaginosis (BV) and HIV was stronger for women without high-risk sexual behaviour.

“Given that bacterial vaginosis and HIV infection are both transmitted sexually, it is difficult to determine whether associations found are causal, or if there is some other reason why women with BV are more likely than others to become infected with HIV,” said Jennifer S. Smith, assistant professor in the University of North Carolina School of Public Health.

“If additional follow-up studies show that there was a relationship between BV and the risk of incident HIV infection, though, then increasing the treatment of BV could be considered for the future prevention of HIV infection.”

Bacterial vaginosis is an imbalance in the type of bacteria normally found in the vagina. BV has been shown to cause gynaecological and obstetrical problems including pre-term delivery, pelvic inflammatory disease and upper genital tract infections.

The studies analysed by Smith and colleagues included women from the US, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Gambia. Prevalence of BV in women in these countries ranged from about 11 percent to 70 percent.

The study has been published in the peer-reviewed journal AIDS.

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