It is estimated that over one million Americans are currently living with HIV, while over half a million have already lost their lives to AIDS. In a 2009 survey, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the demographic suspicions that out of 882,000 male patients, 72% of cases were infected through homosexual intercourse. Still, an unexpected 15% were infected through heterosexual intercourse.
The Role of Bacterial Vaginosis
In response, the Public Library of Science released a study pertaining to those 15%. The research was conducted by the University of California, San Francisco and concluded that women who carry the disease bacterial vaginosis are far more likely to transmit HIV to their male sexual partners. BV develops when the amount of “good” bacteria in the vagina is outnumbered by “bad” bacteria, rendering it unhealthy. It is often characterized by a painless but foul-smelling white discharge and occasionally itchiness in the vaginal region and burning during urination. However, studies show that about 50% of women who have BV show no symptoms.
Not only does bacterial vaginosis increase the risk of a female transmitting HIV to a male partner, the disease also raises the chance of contracting the virus (as well as other sexually transmitted diseases and infections) by as much as 60%. According to UCSF professor and head author Dr. Craig R. Cohen, the medical community is seeking to improve the diagnostic procedures and treatment of BV, thereby reducing transmission of HIV.
Light Shed on AIDS in Africa
Dr. Cohen also adds that this new information sheds light on the elevated incidence of HIV and AIDS in areas like Africa, especially the sub-Saharan region, where bacterial vaginosis is unparalleled in its prevalence. The forthcoming investigation of BV and its link to HIV will further illuminate the issue and serve to help those suffering from both afflictions on home soil as well as in third-world countries.