High Global Burden and Costs of Bacterial Vaginosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Sex Transm Dis. 2019 May;46(5):304-311. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000972.


Background: Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection among women of reproductive age and is associated with important adverse health outcomes. Estimates of the burden of BV and associated costs are needed to inform research priorities.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of global BV prevalence among reproductive-aged women in the general population. We searched PubMed and Embase and used random effects models to estimate BV prevalence by global regions. We estimated the direct medical costs of treating symptomatic BV. Assuming a causal relationship, we also estimated the potential costs of BV-associated preterm births and human immunodeficiency virus cases in the United States.

Results: General population prevalence of BV is high globally, ranging from 23% to 29% across regions (Europe and Central Asia, 23%; East Asia and Pacific, 24%; Latin America and Caribbean, 24%; Middle East and North Africa, 25%; sub-Saharan Africa, 25%; North America, 27%; South Asia, 29%). Within North America, black and Hispanic women have significantly higher (33% and 31%, respectively) prevalence compared with other racial groups (white, 23%; Asian, 11%; P < 0.01). The estimated annual global economic burden of treating symptomatic BV is US $4.8 (95% confidence interval, $3.7-$6.1) billion. The US economic burden of BV is nearly tripled when including costs of BV-associated preterm births and human immunodeficiency virus cases.

Conclusions: The BV prevalence is high globally, with a concomitant high economic burden and marked racial disparities in prevalence. Research to determine the etiology of BV and corresponding prevention and sustainable treatment strategies are urgently needed to reduce the burden of BV among women. Additionally, the exceptionally high cost of BV-associated sequelae highlights the need for research to understand potential causal linkages between BV and adverse health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • HIV Infections / economics
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / economics
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / epidemiology*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / therapy