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HIVR4P 2016: Vaginal and Rectal Bacteria May Influence HIV Transmission and Microbicide Efficacy

A number of presentations at the HIV Research for Prevention Conference (HIVR4P 2016) this week in Chicago looked at the influence of vaginal bacteria on HIV susceptibility, with one study finding that vaginal bacteria may have profound effects on levels of certain drugs used as microbicides -- but not others. A poster at the conference also looked at bacteria in the rectum in gay men, finding a correlation between condomless anal sex and changes in the predominant bacterial species which may similarly increase susceptibility to HIV infection.

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HIVR4P 2016: Anal Sex May Transmit 4 in 10 HIV Infections Among High-Risk U.S. Women

A study presented at the HIV Research for Prevention conference this week in Chicago suggests that among women at high risk for HIV infection, 40% or more infections might be transmitted via anal intercourse. Because HIV is transmitted, according to different estimates, from 2 to 18 times more easily via anal than vaginal sex (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's estimate is 12 times), anal intercourse could be a major -- or even predominant -- contributor to HIV infections in heterosexual women, even if anal sex accounts for only 5%-10% of all sex.

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Vaginal Infections May Help Explain Link Between Hormonal Contraception and Increased HIV Risk

Hormones may alter genital tract immunity in a way that makes women more prone to bacterial and viral infections, while disturbances in natural vaginal microbes may also contribute to the association seen in some studies between use of hormonal contraceptives such as Dep-Provera and susceptibility to HIV infection, according to a laboratory study published in the online journal mBio.

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Certain Vaginal Bacteria May Protect Against HIV Transmission During Sex

Specific types of Lactobacillus bacteria in the vaginal mucus can trap HIV and may help prevent sexual transmission of the virus to women, according to a report in the October 6 edition of the online journal mBio. Conversely, researchers found that another species associated with bacterial vaginosis may increase susceptibility to HIV infection.

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IAS 2015: Gay Men Are Using Nuanced Sero-adaptive Behaviors to Prevent HIV Infection

There is evidence that some groups of Australian and American gay men are considering HIV-positive partners’ undetectable viral load and the time elapsed since an HIV-negative partner last tested when making decisions about using condoms, according to studies presented at the recent 8th International AIDS Society Conference in Vancouver.

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