Introduction Bacterial vaginosis (BV) by Nugent scoring is associated with enhanced acquisition and cervicovaginal shedding of HIV, but longitudinal molecular studies of these relationships are scarce.
Methods HIV-negative (n = 397) female sex workers in Kigali, Rwanda, were followed for two years. Demographic, behavioural, clinical, HIV, sexually transmitted infection, and cervicovaginal microbiota data were collected at regular intervals. The cervicovaginal microbiota were characterised by Nugent scoring, Amsel criteria (pH >4.5, a positive whiff test and presence of >20% clue cells on wet mount; two or three criteria indicated BV diagnosis), and phylogenetic 16S DNA microarray.
Results During follow-up, 19 women seroconverted for HIV. The associations between BV by Nugent or Amsel criteria and subsequent HIV seroconversion did not reach statistical significance (aOR = 1.56 (95% CI 0.51–4.77) and aOR = 4.85 (95% CI 0.59–39.90), respectively). For 10/19 women, phylogenetic microbiome composition was available before and after seroconversion, with a median of 324 days (range 42–386) before and 196 days (range 121–492) after seroconversion. Before seroconversion, none of the women had a L. crispatus-dominated microbiome, four had a L. iners-dominated microbiome, four a moderately dysbiotic microbiome and two severe dysbiosis. The microbiome composition of five women remained stable before and after seroconversion, four shifted to (more severe) dysbiosis, and one shifted from dysbiosis to a L. iners-dominated microbiome. After seroconversion, phylogenetic microbiome composition was available for all 19 women. 26% had a L. iners-dominated microbiome, 32% moderate dysbiosis, and 42% severe dysbiosis.
Conclusion In this population of high risk women, the association between BV and subsequent HIV seroconversion did not reach statistical significance, but statistical power was limited. The molecular microbiome analysis showed that high levels of L. crispatus may protect against HIV acquisition and that recently acquired HIV infection may make women more prone to dysbiosis. More research is needed to confirm these relationships and determine causality.
Disclosure of interest statement This work was funded by the Aids Fonds Netherlands (project number 201102), European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (project number CT.2005.33070.001), and the European Commission (CHAARM consortium). The authors report no conflicts of interest.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.