Burnet Institute Head of Life Sciences, Professor Gilda Tachedjian
Leading global researchers in the field of bacterial vaginosis (BV), including Burnet Institute’s Professor Gilda Tachedjian, are seeking to standardise the terminology relating to BV and how clinical and research findings are discussed to bring clarity to an evolving field.
Professor Tachedjian, Burnet’s Head of Life Sciences, is a co-author of an article published in AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, which draws attention to the varied language and definitions used to describe BV, and the related genital inflammation and risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
BV is a common disorder affecting 29 per cent of women in the United States and 52 per cent of women in sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV is also a highly prevalent STI.
“This really started at an international conference on HIV research in Madrid last year where everyone had diverse views and people were confused about whether bacterial vaginosis is actually is a risk factor for HIV,” Professor Tachedjian said.
“What was then quite apparent is that we needed to bring the field together, so there’s a consensus about BV, and how we talk about BV.”
An important first step in this process is the Perspectives article, ‘The Evolving Facets of Bacterial Vaginosis: Implications for HIV Transmission’, in which Professor Tachedjian and her co-authors discuss the implications of asymptomatic BV and HIV risk.
The researchers make specific recommendations related to conventional and newer molecular testing methods to diagnose BV and to characterise the vaginal microbiome.
“We’re not saying this is set in stone; this is a starting point for the conversation,” Professor Tachedjian said.
“These are suggestions for how we could progress in terms of how we talk about the vaginal microbiome, but we believe it’s a very important contribution to the field.”
Find out more about Burnet’s research into HIV and AIDS.