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AIDS. 2012 Jan 28;26(3):387-93. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e32834ed7f0.

Bacterial vaginosis, HIV serostatus and T-cell subset distribution in a cohort of East African commercial sex workers: retrospective analysis.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.



Although bacterial vaginosis is a known correlate of HIV infection, no previous studies have investigated whether women defined as HIV-exposed seronegative (HESN) are less likely to have bacterial vaginosis. Little is known about the effects of bacterial vaginosis on systemic immune activation associated with HIV+ serostatus.


Cohort-based retrospective analysis of bacterial vaginosis in relation to HESN status, HIV+ serostatus and peripheral T-helper cells, with cross-sectional analysis of bacterial vaginosis in relation to peripheral T-regulatory cells (Tregs).


Bacterial vaginosis diagnosis by Gram stain and determination of systemic CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-helper cell frequency by flow cytometry for 3504 vaginal samples from 988 commercial sex workers over 4 years. Treg phenotyping by FoxP3 staining and multiparameter flow cytometry in peripheral blood of 97 women at a single time-point.


No differences in bacterial vaginosis diagnosis were observed between HESN and other HIV-negative (HIV-N) controls; however, HIV+ women were more likely to be diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis compared to all HIV-negative women (HESN/HIV-N combined). HIV+ women with bacterial vaginosis had significantly higher CD4(+)/CD8(+) T-helper cell counts and a lower CD4/CD8 ratio, as well as fewer Tregs as a proportion of total T-helper cells, compared to bacterial vaginosis-negative women. The number of bacterial vaginosis diagnoses in this cohort has decreased significantly over time.


Bacterial vaginosis is associated with HIV serostatus and shifts in distribution of T-cell subsets. A concomitant reduction in bacterial vaginosis and HIV infections over time suggests that the elucidation of bacterial vaginosis-HIV interactions will be critical to further understanding of HIV pathogenesis and prevention in this high-risk group.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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