A common sexually transmitted bacterial infection more than doubles the risk of HIV infection in African women, according to a study by researchers at RTI International.
The study, published in the March 13 issue of AIDS, found that women with the "emerging" sexually transmitted disease Mycoplasma genitalium are more likely to acquire HIV infection.
"Further research will be required to confirm a causal relationship and to identify risk factors for M. genitalium infection in African populations," said Sue Napierala Mavedzenge, Ph.D., a research investigator with the Women's Global Health Imperative at RTI International and the study's lead author. "If findings from this research are confirmed, M. genitalium screening and treatment among women at high risk for HIV-1 infection may be warranted as part of an HIV-1 prevention strategy."
First discovered in 1980, M. genitalium is a bacterial STD that causes inflammatory conditions of the genitals and reproductive tract (urethritis, cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease). The infection, which may be present for years without causing any symptoms, can be eliminated with appropriate antibiotics.