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J Virus Erad. 2017 Oct 1;3(4):204-207.

Low-level genital HIV shedding in Thai HIV-infected women with suppressed plasma viral load after menopause: a longitudinal study.

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HIV Netherlands Australia Thailand Research Collaboration (HIV-NAT), Bangkok, Thailand.
Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, Bangkok, Thailand.
Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.



First, to evaluate the longitudinal changes of HIV RNA in genital secretions in HIV-positive women with plasma HIV RNA <50 copies/mL before and after the onset of menopause. Second, to assess inflammatory markers and prevalence of comorbidities after the onset of menopause.


This was a prospective observational study with two time points. HIV RNA in genital secretions (GVL) was measured in 15 HIV-positive menopausal women (second time point). Results were compared to earlier available data for GVL from the same participant before the onset of menopause (first time point).


Median age at the first time point was 42 years, and 52 years at the second time point. Median time since the onset of menopause was 2 years and 33% of women were sexually active. Eighty per cent had at least one comorbidity. The GVL before menopause was >50 copies/mL in 27% of the participants, and in 40% after menopause. The GVL was <1000 copies/mL in all but one measurement. There was no significant difference between the two time points (P=0.687). Intermediate vaginal flora or bacterial vaginosis was found in 73% of participants during the second time point.


There was a high prevalence of low-level GVL shedding before and after menopause. This needs further investigation, especially in relation to the vaginal microbiome and the complex interactions between micro-organisms. HIV-infected women in menopause do not seem to present a major public health risk for HIV transmission. Nevertheless, safe sex should be discussed with all, regardless of age. The high prevalence of non-communicable diseases after menopause requires special attention and comprehensive care.


HIV and women, menopause, genital viral shedding, metabolic syndrome


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