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A behavioural intervention to reduce persistence of bacterial vaginosis among women who report sex with women: results of a randomised trial
  1. Jeanne M Marrazzo,
  2. Katherine K Thomas,
  3. Kathleen Ringwood
  1. Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jeanne M Marrazzo, Harborview Medical Center, 325 9th Avenue, Box #359932, Seattle, WA 98104, USA; jmm2{at}


Objectives Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is common in lesbians, and treatment fails in up to 28%. Risks include sexual behaviours that transmit vaginal fluid. The authors measured efficacy of a behavioural intervention to reduce sexual transfer of vaginal fluid between female sex partners in reducing BV persistence.

Methods Women aged 16–35 years with BV who reported sex with women (prior year) were eligible. Participants were randomised to intervention (motivational interviewing designed to reduce sharing of vaginal fluid on hands or sex toys post-treatment, by provision of condoms, gloves and water-based lubricant) or control (general STI education) arms. All were treated with vaginal metronidazole and underwent computer-assisted self-interview to ascertain sexual behaviours, with test-of-cure at 30 days.

Results Of 129 women with BV, 108 (84%) were eligible; 89 (69%) agreed to enrol. 43 were randomised to control and 46 to intervention; 81 (91%) returned for test-of-cure. BV persisted in 12 (27.9%) of 43 women in intervention and 8 (21.1%) of 38 women in control arms (p1/40.6). Digital-vaginal sex was common post-treatment (50% intervention and 68% control); women randomised to the intervention were less likely to report receptive digital-vaginal sex without gloves than control (31% vs 61%; p1/40.01), without reported lower frequency of other sexual practices. Shared vaginal use of sex toys was infrequent.

Conclusions Although the intervention effected a significant increase in glove use during digital-vaginal sex post-BV treatment, this was not associated with reduction in BV persistence. Shared use of vaginal sex toys was infrequent, suggesting that other mechanisms promote BV in lesbians.

  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • vaginitis
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • behavioural interventions
  • prevention

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  • Presented in part as a poster at the Annual Meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Seattle, WA, in August 2008.

  • Funding National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grants RO1 AI052228 (JMM).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Washington Human Subjects Division.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.