A new study published last month reported findings that show a link between bacterial vaginosis and higher HIV transmission rates. Specifically, women are at a greater risk of contracting HIV and become three times more likely to pass it on to male partners if they have bacterial vaginosis, which is caused by an imbalance of vaginal bacteria.
Study participants were recruited from seven African countries, where women under 25 were eight times more likely to be HIV positive than their male counterparts. The study analyzed data from more than 2,000 couples.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection among women of childbearing age, and affects up to 55 percent of women across Africa. It is especially prevalent among pregnant women. In addition to increasing the likelihood of transmitting HIV, bacterial vaginosis also increases the susceptibility of contracting herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
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