Some components of the microbial flora of the vagina, most notably lactobacilli, have been linked with decreased rates of bacterial and viral STIs, including HIV, mucopurulent cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease. However, the same sexual activity which adversely impacts vaginal colonisation by lactobacilli increases risk of STIs. Therefore, the apparent protective benefits of lactobacilli could reflect co-epidemiology rather than an independent biological benefit of these microorganisms.This presentation will present a summary of the epidemiological data linking vaginal microflora to HIV/STI risk and evidence suggesting that lactobacilli play a causal role in reducing risk of STI/HIV in women.
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