To evaluate interrelationships between bacterial vaginosis (BV), vaginal yeast, vaginal practices (cleansing and drying/tightening), mucosal inflammation, and HIV acquisition.Methods:
A multicenter, prospective, observational cohort study was conducted, enrolling 4531 HIV-negative women aged 18 to 35 years attending family planning clinics in Zimbabwe and Uganda. Participants were tested for HIV and reproductive tract infections and were interviewed about vaginal practices every 3 months for 15 to 24 months. BV was measured by Gram stain Nugent scoring, vaginal yeast by wet mount, and mucosal inflammation by white blood cells on Gram stain.Results:
HIV incidence was 4.12 and 1.53 per 100 woman-years of follow-up in Zimbabwe and Uganda, respectively (a total of 213 incident infections). Women with BV or vaginal yeast were more likely to acquire HIV, especially if the condition was present at the same visit as the new HIV infection and the visit preceding it (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.50, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.68 to 3.72 and HR = 2.97, 95% CI: 1.67 to 5.28 for BV and yeast, respectively). These relationships did not seem to be mediated by mucosal inflammation. Vaginal drying/tightening was associated with HIV acquisition in univariate (HR = 1.49, 95% CI: 1.03 to 2.15) but not multivariate models. Vaginal cleansing was not associated with HIV acquisition.Conclusions:
BV and yeast may contribute more to the HIV epidemic than previously thought.