Category: education

Bacterial vaginosis fact sheet update by CDC

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the commonest vaginal infection seen in women. The Centre of Disease Control (CDC) has recently updated its fact sheet on this common condition.

In summary 

BV is linked to an imbalance of “good” and “harmful” bacteria that are normally found in a woman’s vagina. Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners and douching can upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina and put women at increased risk for getting BV.

BV can cause some serious health risks, including:

Increasing your chance of getting HIV if you have sex with someone who is infected with HIV;

If you are HIV positive, increasing your chance of passing HIV to your sex partner;

Making it more likely that you will deliver your baby too early if you have BV while pregnant;

Increasing your chance of getting other STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

These bacteria can sometimes cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can make it difficult or impossible for you to have children.

Important new research on lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) in gay men in the UK

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), previously predominantly a tropical disease, re-emerged in Western Europe in 2003, and has arguably now regained endemic status in many countries. It remains largely contained within in a population of men who have sex with men (MSM) with high rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, though a first female case was reported in Sexually Transmitted Infections in 2012.

A recent series of papers in Sexually Transmitted Infections sheds further light on the risk factors for rectal LGV in men who have sex with men in the UK, the key symptoms and ways in which LGV presents to the clinician, and pitfalls in the currently recommended treatment and prevention strategies.

Moreover, microbiological  characteristic of LGV repeaters using surveillance data has convinced Rönn and colleagues that behaviour alone does not explain reinfection, which they see as related to centrality in sexual networks.

Together these four articles add important information on the clinical presentation, epidemiology and treatment of LGV in MSM.

Project on the role of shame in failure to attend for STI and HIV testing shame approved for funding

The 2013 round of applications for funding has resulted in approval for the following pilot project:

Designing a Research project for understanding the role of stigma and shame in STI and HIV testing 

The project will be headed by Phil Hutchinson, Ph.D. (Man.), M.A. (Man.), B.A. (London), Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University.

The aim of the preliminary project is to find the methodology to test the hypothesis: is shame one of the reasons for failing  to attend for STI and HIV testing. The project will be completed within six months involving setting up workshops with groups involved with both patient groups and those sexual health care.

HIV testing in the street: a useful tool for widening coverage

The March issue of the journal STI included an article by Sonia Fernandez-Balbuena and colleagues in Madrid which demonstrated that offering HIV testing on the street  may allow a significant number of hard-to reach populations to offer themselves for HIV testing.

Of 7552 persons in various Spanish cities who were asked to full a brief questionnaire and offered HIV testing 3517 participants (47%) were first-time testers. These included 24% of men who have sex with men , 56% of exclusively heterosexual men and 60% of women. 22 undiagnosed HIV infections were detected with a global prevalence of 0.6% and 3.1% in MSM.

The authors concluded that their community programme attracted a substantial number of persons previously untested and particularly hard to reach, such as those with low education and MSM who were least involved in the gay community.

In their view a decisive in decisive factor for almost two of every three persons who had never been tested. was the visibility of the programme.

Need and acceptability of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in men

HPV vaccination of young women with the quadrivalent vaccine (HPV4) resulted in a dramatic fall in genital warts and cervical cancer rates. However rolling out a similar vaccination in young men has been hampered by arguments that  male HPV4 vaccination programmes exceed cost-effectiveness thresholds.

Unlike the USA and Australia, European countries do not include men in HPV vaccination programmes, instead focusing on achieving expanded coverage among women to promote herd immunity.

Yet there is  evidence that HPV4 vaccination offers substantial clinical benefits to men and is cost effective among men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM have largely been excluded from mathematical models. A recent study in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections has shown that HPV related conditions such as anal/genital warts and rectal infections are likely to be profoundly underdiagnosed among MSM in most European cities. The paper concluded that there is an urgent need to improve sexual healthcare tailored to MSM at risk for STIs.

There is also the argument  for a gender-neutral (universal) approach to vaccination.

In the same issue of STI a meta-analysis shows that there are currently a number of obstacles to acceptability of HPV vaccination in  men. They concluded that Public health campaigns should aim to promote positive HPV vaccine attitudes and awareness about HPV risk in men. The paper recommended interventions to promote HPV vaccination for boys and to overcome  obstacles to HPV vaccine acceptability for men.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV): a common cause of vaginal discharge in need of more research

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common condition in women presenting as a malodorous vaginal discharge. The  smell is often worse after sex and arround the menstrual period. Occasionally there is an associated  itching or burning sensation although most women with BV only have the discharge. BV can also be detected in women who are totally symptom free.

BV is caused by an imbalance of the normal vagina flora and its mechanism remain poorly understood. An updated review by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), USA confirms a commonly observation that BV follows sexual intercourse with a new partner and multiple partners as well as vaginal douching.

BV, itself an benign though troublesome nuisance is associated with increased risk of a number of infections or conditions:

  • Having BV can increase a woman’s susceptibility to HIV infection if she is exposed to the HIV virus.

  • Having BV increases the chances that an HIV-infected woman can pass HIV to her sex partner.

  • Having BV has been associated with an increase in the development of an infection following surgical procedures such as a hysterectomy or an abortion.

  • Having BV while pregnant may put a woman at increased risk for some complications of pregnancy, such as preterm delivery.

  • BV can increase a woman’s susceptibility to other STDs, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV),chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

  • The bacteria that cause BV can sometimes infect the uterus (womb) and fallopian tubes (tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). This type of infection is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  • Pregnant women with BV more often have babies who are born premature or with low birth weight (low birth weight is less than 5.5 pounds). Pregnant women who have had previous premature of low birth weight babies should be tested and treated for BV in third trimester regardless of symptoms.

What is in the May issue of STI

The latest issue of STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) contains articles on increasing resistance of bacterial STI’s, a successful  educational interventions in South London to encourage HIV testing and data supporting the willingness by a substantial section of men who have sex with men to use pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV.

particularly worrying is the emergence of a novel strategy by the gonococcus to avoid detection by the now widely used DNA amplification methods.

HIV treatment of infected partner reduces transmission in heterosexual couples

Based on results of randomised clinical trials the World Health Organization recommends antiretroviral drugs for all HIV infected adults in serodiscordant heterosexual relationships at all stages of the disease. But does this strategy work in real life situations?

A recent study published in the Lancet has for the first time reported that such a public health approach is feasible and the outcomes are sustainable at a large scale and in a developing country setting.

New analyses from China look encouraging, say researchers. Between 2003 and 2011, uninfected partners of treated people were significantly less likely to seroconvert than uninfected partners of untreated people (1.3 infections/100 person years (95% CI 1.2 to 1.3) v 2.6 (2.4 to 2.8)). After adjustments, treatment of infected partners was associated with a 26% reduction in risk of transmission to uninfected partners (hazard ratio 0.74, 0.65 to 0.84).

The analyses compared around 24 000 treated couples with nearly 15 000 untreated couples registered in China’s national HIV epidemiology database.

It is hard to say whether treatment was entirely responsible for reducing transmission, because people who were treated were older, sicker, and may have had less sex, or less risky sex, than those who were not yet treated, says a linked comment by the Lancet

But the findings hint at a direct effect. Treated couples looked better protected, despite the relatively low CD4 counts (and presumably higher viral loads) necessary for treatment in China.

Treatment was associated with lower transmission when HIV had been acquired from a transfusion of blood products (50% of the treated couples) or heterosexual sex, but not when it had been acquired from injecting drugs.