The study published in the journal Science now highlights the central role of vaginal bacteria in this process.
Vaginal bacteria communitiesThe vagina contains many microbial species which can be critical for women’s sexual health.
Certain types of vaginal bacteria appear to reduce the efficacy of a common preventive treatment against HIV, tenofovir.
In the past few years, new molecular tools have allowed scientists to learn more about vaginal bacteria.
They could also help improve the way clinical trials and public health programs are designed.
referring to Certain types of vaginal bacteria rapidly degrade a medication used to prevent HIV, a study of South African women reveals.
found that individuals where Lactobacillus predominated had around 3-fold greater protection against HIV acquisition, compared to those with non-Lactobacillus vaginal compositions.
Today, high HIV acquisition rates among women are a major global health concern.
identified two major vaginal bacterial compositions in women — one dominated by the bacteria Lactobacillus, and the other, by Gardnerella vaginalis.
High HIV acquisition was found amongst those individuals where Gardnerella vaginalis dominated, because the bacteria could rapidly metabolize and breakdown the active form of the drug.
Some vaginal bacteria may weaken anti-HIV gel
Women with healthier vaginal bacterial compositions — those dominated by the bacteria Lactobacillus — showed three-fold higher protection against HIV than women with different dominant vaginal bacteria compositions.
Researchers examined a subset of women who were infected with HIV during the study, even though they used the gel regularly.
A 2010 randomised trial called CAPRISA 004 showed that tenofovir gel, applied before and after sex, reduced HIV incidence by 39 per cent.
The drug has shown success in preventing HIV in high-risk men, but studies involving women have been “disappointing”, said the report.
Women who became infected with HIV tended to have a dominant bacteria known as Gardnerella vaginalis, which “could rapidly metabolise and break down the active form of the drug”, said the report.
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