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Bacterial Vaginosis; Facts to Know.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is three times more common among African-American women than among women of other ethnic groups. This may help explain why African-American women have higher rates of problem pregnancies. The reason for increased BV in this population is not clear.

BV is widespread but its prevalence varies widely. BV is the most common cause of vaginitis in women of childbearing age--five to 60 percent of women across the world have BV. In the US, the rate of BV depends on the population: it's responsible for 17 to 19 percent of vaginitis cases seen in student health or family-planning clinics; 24 to 37 percent in STD clinics; and 10 to 35 percent among pregnant women.

BV increases a woman's risk of delivering prematurely or delivering a baby with low birthweight. A National Institutes of Health study found that pregnant women with BV were more likely to deliver a baby with low birthweight than those without the infection. The most common cause of premature birth from BV is premature rupture of membranes.

A woman with BV may be more likely to become infected with HIV, the sexually transmitted virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Recent studies have shown a relationship between BV and HIV, so health officials now consider BV a risk factor for HIV acquisition, particularly in developing countries where BV is often untreated.

Bacterial vaginosis infection disrupts the vaginal ecosystem. Some women infected with BV have up to 1,000 times more anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that require no oxygen to live) than uninfected women. Once this imbalance occurs, the body has difficulty getting back to normal. Consequently, researchers are looking at natural ways to supplement the "good" bacteria needed to protect the genital tract from infection, and thereby reduce recurrences.

Because its symptoms mimic other vaginal infections, BV is often mistaken for a common yeast infection. Also, a low-grade infection may not cause any symptoms.

Up to 50 to 75 percent of women with BV have no symptoms. And yet studies find that as many as one-third of women entering obstetric clinics have a BV infection.

Despite adequate treatment, BV recurs in about 30 percent of women within three months. Researchers are not sure what makes some women more prone to recurrent BV.

The greatest risk factors for BV are having a new sex partner or having multiple sex partners.


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Keywords: bacterial vaginosis, bv, women with bv, bv infection, hiv, bacteria, baby with low birth, weight, infection
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Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Bacterial Vaginosis
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 14, 2006
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