Partners of Bacterial Vaginosis sufferers at increased risk of HIV

Starpharma Holdings Limited today commented on results of a study which showed that men were three times more likely to contract HIV from their female partners if the women also had bacterial vaginosis (BV) in the three months before the men became infected.

The findings1 were reported at the International HIV/AIDS Conference in Rome yesterday by researchers led by Professor Craig Cohen from the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco.

This study is the first to demonstrate an association between BV in HIV infected female partners and their risk of HIV transmission to their male partners.

Several previous studies have demonstrated an increased risk of HIV acquisition in females with BV, including one study that indicated more than 30% of HIV infections in women could be prevented if BV was successfully treated.

Starpharma CEO Jackie Fairley said:  “Professor Craig Cohen has previously led a clinical study of Starpharma’s VivaGel®, and we congratulate him and his team on this important finding. This very interesting finding is relevant to Starpharma’s bacterial vaginosis program for VivaGel®, both for acute treatment and also for the important prevention of recurrence application.  No doubt this finding will further increase interest in bacterial vaginosis, both for consumers and in a public health sense.”

VivaGel® was recently shown in a phase 2 study to successfully treat BV and planning for phase 3 studies is underway.  An additional phase 2 study is anticipated to commence in Q3 2011 to investigate VivaGel® for prevention of recurrence of BV.

1. Association of bacterial vaginosis with female-to-male HIV-1 transmission among HIV-1 discordant couples in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

C.R. Cohen, J.R. Lingappa, J.M. Baeten, M.O. Ngayo, C.A. Spiegel, T. Hong, D. Donnell, C. Celum, S. Kapiga, S. Delany, E.A. Bukusi, Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study Team.

Presented by Craig R Cohen at the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.

Starpharma Holdings Limited (ASX:SPL, OTCQX:SPHRY) is a world leader in the development of dendrimer technology for pharmaceutical, life-science and other applications. SPL has two operating companies, Starpharma Pty Ltd in Melbourne, Australia and DNT, Inc in the USA.  Products based on SPL’s dendrimer technology are already on the market in the form of diagnostic elements and laboratory reagents through licence arrangements with partners including Siemens and Merck KGaA.

The Company’s lead pharmaceutical development product is VivaGel® (SPL7013 Gel), a vaginal microbicide designed to prevent the transmission of STIs, including HIV, genital herpes and bacterial vaginosis.  Starpharma has a licence agreement with Durex® condom manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser to develop a VivaGel®-coated condom, and a licence agreement with Okamoto Industries Inc in relation to the VivaGel®-coated condom for the Japanese market.  Okamoto is the market leader for condoms sold in Japan, the world’s second largest condom market.

Starpharma also has agreements in place with Lilly, Elanco, Stiefel Laboratories (a GSK Company), and Siemens Healthcare as well as many research collaborations with some of the world’s leading organisations in the fields of pharmaceuticals, drug delivery, cosmetics and agrochemicals.


QUICK FACTS: Bacterial Vaginosis

  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection worldwide, and the most common cause of vaginal irritation, discharge and smell.
  • It is estimated to affect 1 in 3 women. The market for a new treatment is estimated to be $1B worldwide.
  • If the condition is untreated it is implicated in pelvic inflammatory disease,  associated with an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections and pre-term birth.
  • BV is characterized by frequent recurrence, with some women experiencing it as many as three or more times per year.
  • Current therapies, mainly very strong antibiotics, are generally considered by clinicians to be inadequate.  Anti-biotic resistance is of concern.
  • VivaGel®, being developed in Australia, is a vaginal microbicide gel that contains an active ingredient that inactivates viruses that cause sexually transmitted and other infections and is also antibacterial. There are currently no comparable vaginal microbicide gel products on the market.
  • VivaGel® has been granted Fast Track Status by the FDA and has received more than A$26m in development funding from the US National Institutes of Health.
  • A Dendrimer is a type of precisely-defined, branched nanoparticle. Dendrimers have applications in the medical, electronics, chemicals and materials industries.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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