News / Africa

Common Infection Raises Female-to-Male HIV Risk

A Kenyan woman prepares ribbons ahead of World Aids Day at Beacon of Hope center, a non-government organization formed to address women's problem of HIV/AIDS in Nairobi (File)A Kenyan woman prepares ribbons ahead of World Aids Day at Beacon of Hope center, a non-government organization formed to address women's problem of HIV/AIDS in Nairobi (File)
x
A Kenyan woman prepares ribbons ahead of World Aids Day at Beacon of Hope center, a non-government organization formed to address women's problem of HIV/AIDS in Nairobi (File)
A Kenyan woman prepares ribbons ahead of World Aids Day at Beacon of Hope center, a non-government organization formed to address women's problem of HIV/AIDS in Nairobi (File)
Joe DeCapua
A common bacterial infection among women in sub-Saharan Africa sharply increases the risk of HIV transmission to men. Researchers say current treatments provide only a short-term solution.

It’s long been known that bacterial vaginosis, or BV, increases a woman’s risk of getting HIV. Now, research shows an HIV positive women, who also has the bacterial infection, has a three-fold greater risk of transmitting the AIDS virus to her male partner.

“BV is a condition where the normal vaginal flora, which is predominately Lactobacilli, get replaced by abnormal vaginal flora, predominantly anaerobic bacteria. There’s a large number of species that are associated with BV. It’s not a single bacteria that causes BV, but it’s multiple numbers of these abnormal vaginal flora that replace normal vaginal flora,” said Dr. Craig Cohen, lead author of the story.

Cohen is professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco. He said women can be infected and not know it.

“Most women are asymptomatic. The most common symptom among those who do have symptoms is abnormal vaginal discharge, usually an increased vaginal discharge. Some women will complain of a smell or odor, especially after intercourse,” he said.

Despite the infection being so common in women, the cause still hasn’t been pinpointed.

“That we don’t know,” said Cohen, “and that’s one of the calls in the papers that we really need additional research. We know risk factors for BV, there are many, but we don’t know what actually causes it. It’s so common in Africa, for example, where in some populations between one-third and 50 percent of women live with this. It really beckons the question of what’s normal.”

There are a number of theories and hypotheses as to the cause. One is that the bacteria are transmitted to the man and cause inflammation, making him more susceptible to HIV transmission.

Cohen said there are treatments for bacterial vaginosis, but the effects don’t last very long.

“While they will reduce the symptoms in about 70 to 80 percent of women using metronidazole-- or otherwise known as Flagyl either orally or topically – within a 3 to 6 month period of time about 60 to 70 percent of women will actually have a recurrence of BV,” he said

Cohen and his fellow researchers said new treatments need to be developed. These include more effective drugs and possible use of probiotics or bacteria considered beneficial to people.

The study was published in the June 26 issue of PLos Medicine and was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More