Researchers in Africa have found that women with the sexually transmitted disease caused by Mycoplasma genitalium were more likely to develop HIV infection.
Mycoplasma genitalium is a bacterium that is known to cause a sexually transmitted disease characterized by inflammation of the reproductive structures and the genital area in women. People who carry this organism may not show any symptoms for years together; when they do manifest them, the infection is cured using antibiotics.
Researchers tested about 190 young women in Uganda and Zimbabwe who had HIV infection for infection with M. genitalium, and compared them with similar aged women who did not have the infection. During this study, it emerged that women harboring the bacterial STD organism had more than double the chance of getting infected with HIV as compared to women without this organism.
This study published in the journal AIDS was carried out by a team working at RTI International led by Sue Napierla Mavedzenge. Explaining the implications of this study, Mavedzenge said:
“Further research will be required to confirm a causal relationship and to identify risk factors for M. genitalium infection in African populations. 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.”
According to the findings of this study, close to 9 percent of all cases of HIV in the women studied were due to the M. genitalium organism. Besides, the researchers also found some other factors that put women at higher risk for HIV such as sexual contact with a partner who is HIV-infected and infection with the genital herpes virus.
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