The Evolving Facets of Bacterial Vaginosis: Implications for HIV Transmission

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2019 Mar;35(3):219-228. doi: 10.1089/AID.2018.0304.


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common yet poorly understood vaginal condition that has become a major focus of HIV transmission and immunology research. Varied terminologies are used by clinicians and researchers to describe microbial communities that reside in the female reproductive tract (FRT), which is driven, in part, by microbial genetic and metabolic complexity, evolving diagnostic and molecular techniques, and multidisciplinary perspectives of clinicians, epidemiologists, microbiologists, and immunologists who all appreciate the scientific importance of understanding mechanisms that underlie BV. This Perspectives article aims to clarify the varied terms used to describe the cervicovaginal microbiota and its "nonoptimal" state, under the overarching term of BV. The ultimate goal is to move toward language standardization in future literature that facilitates a better understanding of the impact of BV on FRT immunology and risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Keywords: HIV; HIV transmission; bacterial vaginosis; female reproductive tract; genital inflammation; vaginal microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Disease Susceptibility / microbiology*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Lactobacillus / immunology
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Microbiota / immunology
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Risk
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Vagina / immunology
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S