Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

Medical News
Bacterial Vaginosis Is Associated With Higher Risk of Female-to-Male Transmission of HIV

July 31, 2013

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an imbalance of naturally occurring vaginal micro-organisms caused by a decrease in normal helpful bacteria and an increase in harmful bacteria. BV increases women's risks of acquiring HIV and other STDs as well as experiencing pre-term delivery. Also, HIV-infected women with BV might have higher levels and greater shedding of HIV from the cervix and vagina.

Craig R. Cohen, M.D., M.P.H., professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues investigated the association between BV and HIV transmission in a study of 2,236 HIV-infected women from seven African countries and their uninfected male partners. The researchers controlled for sociodemographic factors, sexual behavior, male circumcision, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and level of HIV in the blood of the HIV-infected women.

Results showed that risk of female-to-male HIV transmission was three times higher for HIV-infected women with BV than for HIV-infected women without BV. Researchers could not account for the result. The researchers acknowledged the need for more research to improve BV diagnosis, and treatment to improve women's health and decrease HIV transmission, especially in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, which has both the world's highest HIV burden and a high BV incidence.

The full report, "Bacterial Vaginosis Associated With Increased Risk of Female-to-Male HIV-1 Transmission: A Prospective Cohort Analysis Among African Couples," was published in the journal PLoS Medicine (2012; 9(6): e1001251. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001251).

Back to other news for July 2013

Excerpted from:
Science Codex

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.