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Intermediate vaginal flora and bacterial vaginosis are associated with the same factors: findings from an exploratory analysis among female sex workers in Africa and India


Objectives Several recent studies suggest that intermediate vaginal flora (IVF) is associated with similar adverse health outcomes as bacterial vaginosis (BV). Yet, it is still unknown if IVF and BV share the same correlates. We conducted a cross-sectional and exploratory analysis of data from women screened prior to enrolment in a microbicide trial to estimate BV and IVF prevalence and examine their respective correlates.

Methods Participants were interviewed, examined and provided blood and genital samples for the diagnosis of IVF and BV (using Nugent score) and other reproductive tract infections. Polytomous logistic regressions were used in estimating respective ORs of IVF and BV, in relation to each potential risk factor.

Results Among 1367 women, BV and IVF prevalences were 47.6% (95% CI 45.0% to 50.3%) and 19.2% (95% CI 17.1% to 21.2%), respectively. Multivariate polytomous analysis of IVF and BV showed that they were generally associated with the same factors. The respective adjusted ORs were for HIV 1.98 (95% CI 1.37 to 2.86) and 1.62 (95% CI 1.20 to 2.20) (p=0.2248), for gonorrhoea 1.25 (95% CI 0.64 to 2.4) and 2.01 (95% CI 1.19 to 3.49) (p=0.0906), for trichomoniasis 3.26 (95% CI 1.71 to 6.31) and 2.39 (95% CI 1.37 to 4.33) (p=0.2630), for candidiasis 0.52 (95% CI 0.36 to 0.75) and 0.59 (95% CI 0.44 to 0.78) (p=0.5288), and for hormonal contraception 0.65 (95% CI 0.40 to 1.04) and 0.62 (95% CI 0.43 to 0.90) (p=0.8819). In addition, the association between vaginal flora abnormalities and factors such as younger age, HIV, gonorrhoea trichomoniasis and candidiasis were modified by the study site (all p for interaction ≤0.05).

Conclusions IVF has almost the same correlates as BV. The relationship between some factors and vaginal flora abnormalities may be site-specific.


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