Intravaginal practices are associated with acquiring HIV infection
Although there is no evidence to suggest a direct causal pathway, some intravaginal practices used by women in sub-Saharan Africa (such as washing the vagina with soap) may increase the acquisition of HIV infection and so should be avoided. Encouraging women to use less harmful intravaginal practices (for example, washing with water alone) should therefore be included in female-initiated HIV prevention research strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. These are the key findings from a study by Nicola Low, from the University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues and published in this week's PLoS Medicine. The authors pooled individual participant data from 13 prospective cohort studies in sub-Saharan Africa involving nearly 15,000 women, 791 of whom acquired HIV, and found that HIV infection within two years of enrolment in the studies was associated with self-reported intravaginal practices. After controlling for age, marital status, and the number of recent sex partners, women who used cloth or paper to clean their vagina were nearly one and half times more likely to have acquired HIV infection as women who did not use this practice. Furthermore, the insertion of products to dry or tighten the vagina and intravaginal cleaning with soap also increased women's chances of acquiring HIV. Intravaginal cleaning with soap was associated with the development of bacterial vaginosis, and disrupted vaginal flora—two conditions associated with an increased risk of HIV acquisition.
These findings add to the results of a recent systematic review, published in PLoS ONE, which suggested that a pathway linking intravaginal cleaning practices with vaginal infections that increase susceptibility to HIV infection is plausible, but conclusive evidence is lacking.
The authors of the PLoS Medicine study say: "New female-initiated interventions also need to be developed despite the challenges involved in measuring the impact on preventing HIV acquisition. Behavioural interventions that have been successful in helping young US women to stop vaginal douching might be adapted for women in sub-Saharan Africa to encourage less harmful practices."
Source: Public Library of Science
- Intravaginal practices are associated with acquiring HIV infectionfrom Science CentricTue, 15 Feb 2011, 23:00:23 EST
- Intravaginal practices are associated with acquiring HIV infectionfrom PhysorgTue, 15 Feb 2011, 17:30:21 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Semen secrets: How a previous sexual partner can influence another male's offspring
- Selectively rewiring the brain's circuitry to treat depression
- Geneticists solve 40-year-old dilemma to explain why duplicate genes remain in the genome
- 'Deadly diarrhea' rates nearly doubled in 10 years: Study
- Team advances understanding of the Greenland Ice Sheet's meltwater channels
- Preference for built-up habitats could explain rapid spread of the tree bumblebee in UK
- Earth's water is older than the sun
- Tooth buried in bone shows prehistoric predators tangled across land, sea
- Talk therapy -- not medication -- best for social anxiety disorder, large study finds
- Study shows how chimpanzees share skills
- Ancient mammal relatives were active at night 100 million years before origin of mammals
- Rosetta-Alice spectrograph obtains first far ultraviolet spectra of a cometary surface
- Giant garbage patches help redefine ocean boundaries
- Newly identified galactic supercluster is home to the Milky Way
- How much gravity is enough?