According to an online survey, although healthcare providers (HCPs) report sharing crucial information on bacterial vaginosis (BV) with patients, the associated risks of the condition remain a mystery to many women, indicating a significant disconnect. With BV known to be the most prevalent gynecologic infection in the U.S., affecting 21 million women each year, it's clear that further education is needed to bridge this gap in communication and help women to obtain diagnosis and treatment initiation sooner.
Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc., the U.S. wholly owned subsidiary of Lupin Limited, dedicated to delivering high-quality medications trusted by healthcare providers and women across many treatment areas, has partnered with the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH) to conduct a two-pronged national online survey among women who have been diagnosed with BV and HCPs who treat women with the condition. Survey findings were presented at the 21st Annual NPWH Premier Women's Healthcare Conference in San Antonio, TX, from October 10-13, 2018.
"The incidence of BV is staggering - we know that one in three women will get BV at some point in her life, yet the condition often goes undiagnosed," says Brooke Faught, nurse practitioner and clinical director of the Women's Institute for Sexual Health (WISH) in Nashville, TN. "As providers, we believe that we're sharing vital information about BV with our patients, yet these survey findings demonstrate the need to ensure that patients not only understand the symptoms, but the significant risks associated with this most common gynecologic infection."
If left untreated, BV can increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, trichomoniasis and HIV. Untreated BV can also increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which may affect fertility; it also can lead to pre-term birth and low birth weight.3 Yet less than half of women with BV (43 percent) report that they are aware that untreated BV can cause an increased risk of STDs, and even fewer (38 percent) are aware that it can lead to an increased risk of early labor or birth. The impact is notable - three quarters (76 percent) would have seen their HCP sooner if they were aware of the risks associated with untreated BV.
"Despite the fact that BV is the most common gynecologic infection, it often goes undiagnosed, so women don't get the necessary treatment. Due to the risk factors associated with untreated BV, immediate diagnosis and treatment is of high importance," says Nick Hart, President, Specialty, Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "By presenting the survey data, we hope to shine a light on the gap between what HCPs believe they're sharing with patients and the information that patients are actually taking away. If we can close that gap by encouraging a more productive dialogue, we can help shorten the path to diagnosis and treatment."
While most patients (63 percent) say their HCP discussed general information about BV, far fewer (34 percent) say they discussed the risks associated with BV if left untreated.
The issues uncovered by the survey don't end with patient-HCP communication; the survey also identified the issue of treatment adherence with some patients. While most patients report using their treatment as prescribed (90 percent for those who used an oral antibiotic; 87 percent for those who used vaginal cream), nearly three in 10 (29 percent) who have used prescription BV treatments feel the currently available therapies for BV are very difficult to complete. However, the vast majority of women with BV (91 percent) would be open to trying new treatment options for BV.
"The results demonstrate the need for clearer and more open dialogue between HCPs and patients to not only facilitate prompt treatment, but also to encourage treatment compliance," concludes Faught. "Additionally, HCPs must stay informed about less cumbersome treatment options that may help patients adhere."
For more information, visit www.KeepHerAwesome.com, a resource that provides women and healthcare professionals with information on BV, downloadable fact sheets, discussion guides, and additional patient and practice resources.
The patient survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Symbiomix Therapeutics, LLC, a Lupin Company, and the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) within the United States between September 14 and 29, 2017 among 304 U.S. women aged 18 to 49 who have been diagnosed by a healthcare professional with bacterial vaginosis (BV) within the past 2 years ("women with bacterial vaginosis"). Figures for age, income, race/ethnicity, region, education, and size of household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
The healthcare professional survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc., and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH) within the United States between March 1-15, 2018 among 150 OB/GYNs and 151 nurse practitioners board certified in women's health (NPs) or OB/GYN physician assistants (PAs) who see an average of 20 or more women with BV in a month. OB/GYN results were weighted for gender by years in practice and region and NP/PA results were weighted for age by sex, income, race/ethnicity, region, education and occupation where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.