This Bacteria in Your Vagina Could Increase Your Risk of Acquiring HIV by 4 Times

This Bacteria in Your Vagina Could Increase Your Risk of Acquiring HIV by 4 Times

You’re less likely to get it if you protect yourself during sex, but it’s not that straightforward.

HIV is something just about any human exposed to, can contract. But relatively recent research has shown that some people may be more likely to get it than others. And it simply comes down to the bacteria in their body.

Some background first: HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks a person’s immune system and it used to be a death sentence. Having it- and living with it untreated- means that your body can’t properly fight off infections when they come to visit.

Related: A British Man May be the Second Person Ever to Be Cured of HIV

The illness develops into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) over time. It’s transmitted through contact with semen, blood, vaginal and anal fluids, and breast milk, however it isn’t passed through sweat, saliva or urine.

Inflammation

So who is more likely to get it, over others? a few particular individuals. Research done in January of 2017 showed that women with vaginas that are dominated by pro-inflammatory bacterial species are 4 times more likely to acquire HIV if they come across it.

The study behind the findings looked at 900 women between the ages of 18 and 23 from the KwaZulu-Natal province of Durban, South Africa. (This region unfortunately suffers from some of the highest rates of HIV in all of Africa).

Volunteers participating in the study visited the research site twice a week. There, they had samples of blood and genital mucosal taken.

It was found that 70% of the women involved had diverse bacterial vaginal communities with low rates of something called Lactobacillus and furthermore, these women had high genital inflammation. Researchers suggested that these vaginal environments were making it easier for HIV to find a foothold and blossom.

In contrast, check this out. HIV is such a mysterious disease. Back in 2007, it was discovered that various women working in the sex trade in Kenya are somehow miraculously immune to HIV. They’ve been exposed to it thousands of times, but still aren’t sick.

The human body is a mystery. Hopefully it continues to reveal it’s many secrets.

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