Mombasa, Kenya
Mombasa, Kenya

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Jespers V.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | van de Wijgert J.,University of Liverpool | Cools P.,Ghent University | Verhelst R.,Ghent University | And 8 more authors.
BMC Infectious Diseases | Year: 2015

Background: Women in sub-Saharan Africa are vulnerable to acquiring HIV infection and reproductive tract infections. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption of the vaginal microbiota, has been shown to be strongly associated with HIV infection. Risk factors related to potentially protective or harmful microbiota species are not known. Methods: We present cross-sectional quantitative polymerase chain reaction data of the Lactobacillus genus, five Lactobacillus species, and three BV-related bacteria (Gardnerella vaginalis, Atopobium vaginae, and Prevotella bivia) together with Escherichia coli and Candida albicans in 426 African women across different groups at risk for HIV. We selected a reference group of adult HIV-negative women at average risk for HIV acquisition and compared species variations in subgroups of adolescents, HIV-negative pregnant women, women engaging in traditional vaginal practices, sex workers and a group of HIV-positive women on combination antiretroviral therapy. We explored the associations between presence and quantity of the bacteria with BV by Nugent score, in relation to several factors of known or theoretical importance. Results: The presence of species across Kenyan, South African and Rwandan women was remarkably similar and few differences were seen between the two groups of reference women in Kenya and South Africa. The Rwandan sex workers and HIV-positive women had the highest G. vaginalis presence (p = 0.006). Pregnant women had a higher Lactobacillus genus mean log (7.01 genome equivalents (geq)/ml) compared to the reference women (6.08 geq/ml). L. vaginalis (43%) was second to L. iners (81.9%) highly present in women with a normal Nugent score. Recent sexual exposure negatively affected the presence of L. crispatus (<0.001), L. vaginalis (p = 0.001), and Lactobacillus genus (p < 0.001). Having more than one sexual partner in the last three months was associated with an increased prevalence of G. vaginalis (p = 0.044) and L. iners (p = 0.001). Conclusions: Although the composition of species across the studied African countries was similar, the presence of protective species i.e. L. crispatus and L. vaginalis in women with a normal Nugent score appeared lower compared to non-African studies. Furthermore, Lactobacillus species were negatively affected by sexual behavioural. Strategies to support protective Lactobacillus species are urgently needed. Trial registration: The study is registered at the Trial Registration at the National Health Research Ethics Council South Africa with the number DOH2709103223. © 2015 Jespers et al. licensee BioMed Central.


Cools P.,Ghent University | Jespers V.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | Hardy L.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | Crucitti T.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Background: One million neonates die each year in low- and middle-income countries because of neonatal sepsis; group B Streptococcus (GBS) and Escherichia coli are the leading causes. In sub-Saharan Africa, epidemiological data on vaginal GBS and E. coli carriage, a prerequisite for GBS and E. coli neonatal sepsis, respectively, are scarce but necessary to design and implement prevention strategies. Therefore, we assessed vaginal GBS and E. coli carriage rates and risk factors and the GBS serotype distribution in three sub-Saharan countries. Methods: A total of 430 women from Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa were studied cross-sectionally. Vaginal carriage of GBS and E. coli, and GBS serotype were assessed using molecular techniques. Risk factors for carriage were identified using multivariable logistic regression analysis. Results: Vaginal carriage rates in reference groups from Kenya and South Africa were 20.2% (95% CI, 13.7-28.7%) and 23.1%(95% CI, 16.2-31.9%), respectively for GBS; and 25.0% (95% CI, 17.8-33.9%) and 27.1%(95% CI, 19.6-36.2%), respectively for E. coli. GBS serotypes Ia (36.8%), V (26.3%) and III (14.0%) were most prevalent. Factors independently associated with GBS and E. coli carriage were Candida albicans, an intermediate vaginal microbiome, bacterial vaginosis, recent vaginal intercourse, vaginal washing, cervical ectopy and working as a sex worker. GBS and E. coli carriage were positively associated. Conclusions: Reduced vaginal GBS carriage rates might be accomplished by advocating behavioral changes such as abstinence from sexual intercourse and by avoidance of vaginal washing during late pregnancy. It might be advisable to explore the inclusion of vaginal carriage of C. albicans, GBS, E. coli and of the presence of cervical ectopy in a risk- and/or screeningbased administration of antibiotic prophylaxis. Current phase II GBS vaccines (a trivalent vaccine targeting serotypes Ia, Ib, and III, and a conjugate vaccine targeting serotype III) would not protect the majority of women against carriage in our study population. © 2016 Cools et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Jespers V.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | Crucitti T.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | van de Wijgert J.,University of Liverpool | Vaneechoutte M.,Ghent University | And 4 more authors.
Research in Microbiology | Year: 2016

A next-generation diagnostic tool for bacterial vaginosis, consisting of quantitative and/or qualitative molecular criteria, has not yet been identified. The optimal diagnostic tool should not only diagnose bacterial vaginosis in diverse populations, but should also detect early signs of transition to dysbiosis.We evaluated a tool based on log10-transformed qPCR data for Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus iners, Lactobacillus jensenii, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus vaginalis, Lactobacillus genus, Atopobium vaginae and Gardnerella vaginalis in vaginal specimens of 426 African women to detect dysbiosis and predict transition to dysbiosis.G. vaginalis (= 0.204) and A. vaginae (= 0.001) were more commonly present in women who evolved to an intermediate (Nugent 4-6) or bacterial vaginosis score (Nugent 7-10) compared to women who continued to have a normal Nugent score. The combination of G. vaginalis, A. vaginae and Lactobacillus genus counts performed best for diagnostic accuracy for bacterial vaginosis--sensitivity 93.4% and specificity 83.6%; and for predictive accuracy for bacterial vaginosis--sensitivity 79% and specificity 52%. L. crispatus combinations did not perform well.We conclude that a triple-G. vaginalis-A. vaginae-Lactobacillus genus-qPCR tool holds promise for research in sub-Saharan Africa or when developed as a next-generation clinical diagnostic modality for bacterial vaginosis, ideally engineered as a rapid assay. © 2015 Institut Pasteur.


Jespers V.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | Crucitti T.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | Menten J.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | Verhelst R.,Ghent University | And 88 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Background: Clinical development of vaginally applied products aimed at reducing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, has highlighted the need for a better characterisation of the vaginal environment. We set out to characterise the vaginal environment in women in different settings in sub-Saharan Africa.Methods: A longitudinal study was conducted in Kenya, Rwanda and South-Africa. Women were recruited into pre-defined study groups including adult, non-pregnant, HIV-negative women; pregnant women; adolescent girls; HIV-negative women engaging in vaginal practices; female sex workers; and HIV-positive women. Consenting women were interviewed and underwent a pelvic exam. Samples of vaginal fluid and a blood sample were taken and tested for bacterial vaginosis (BV), HIV and other reproductive tract infections (RTIs). This paper presents the cross-sectional analyses of BV Nugent scores and RTI prevalence and correlates at the screening and the enrolment visit.Results: At the screening visit 38% of women had BV defined as a Nugent score of 7-10, and 64% had more than one RTI (N. gonorrhoea, C. trachomatis, T. vaginalis, syphilis) and/or Candida. At screening the likelihood of BV was lower in women using progestin-only contraception and higher in women with more than one RTI. At enrolment, BV scores were significantly associated with the presence of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the vaginal fluid and with being a self-acknowledged sex worker. Further, sex workers were more likely to have incident BV by Nugent score at enrolment.Conclusions: Our study confirmed some of the correlates of BV that have been previously reported but the most salient finding was the association between BV and the presence of PSA in the vaginal fluid which is suggestive of recent unprotected sexual intercourse. © 2014 Jespers et al.


Jespers V.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | van de Wijgert J.,University of Liverpool | Cools P.,Ghent University | Verhelst R.,Ghent University | And 8 more authors.
BMC infectious diseases | Year: 2015

BACKGROUND: Women in sub-Saharan Africa are vulnerable to acquiring HIV infection and reproductive tract infections. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption of the vaginal microbiota, has been shown to be strongly associated with HIV infection. Risk factors related to potentially protective or harmful microbiota species are not known.METHODS: We present cross-sectional quantitative polymerase chain reaction data of the Lactobacillus genus, five Lactobacillus species, and three BV-related bacteria (Gardnerella vaginalis, Atopobium vaginae, and Prevotella bivia) together with Escherichia coli and Candida albicans in 426 African women across different groups at risk for HIV. We selected a reference group of adult HIV-negative women at average risk for HIV acquisition and compared species variations in subgroups of adolescents, HIV-negative pregnant women, women engaging in traditional vaginal practices, sex workers and a group of HIV-positive women on combination antiretroviral therapy. We explored the associations between presence and quantity of the bacteria with BV by Nugent score, in relation to several factors of known or theoretical importance.RESULTS: The presence of species across Kenyan, South African and Rwandan women was remarkably similar and few differences were seen between the two groups of reference women in Kenya and South Africa. The Rwandan sex workers and HIV-positive women had the highest G. vaginalis presence (p = 0.006). Pregnant women had a higher Lactobacillus genus mean log (7.01 genome equivalents (geq)/ml) compared to the reference women (6.08 geq/ml). L. vaginalis (43%) was second to L. iners (81.9%) highly present in women with a normal Nugent score. Recent sexual exposure negatively affected the presence of L. crispatus (<0.001), L. vaginalis (p = 0.001), and Lactobacillus genus (p < 0.001). Having more than one sexual partner in the last three months was associated with an increased prevalence of G. vaginalis (p = 0.044) and L. iners (p = 0.001).CONCLUSIONS: Although the composition of species across the studied African countries was similar, the presence of protective species i.e. L. crispatus and L. vaginalis in women with a normal Nugent score appeared lower compared to non-African studies. Furthermore, Lactobacillus species were negatively affected by sexual behavioural. Strategies to support protective Lactobacillus species are urgently needed.TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study is registered at the Trial Registration at the National Health Research Ethics Council South Africa with the number DOH2709103223.


PubMed | University of Witwatersrand, University of Liverpool, Rinda Ubuzima, Ghent University and 2 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

One million neonates die each year in low- and middle-income countries because of neonatal sepsis; group B Streptococcus (GBS) and Escherichia coli are the leading causes. In sub-Saharan Africa, epidemiological data on vaginal GBS and E. coli carriage, a prerequisite for GBS and E. coli neonatal sepsis, respectively, are scarce but necessary to design and implement prevention strategies. Therefore, we assessed vaginal GBS and E. coli carriage rates and risk factors and the GBS serotype distribution in three sub-Saharan countries.A total of 430 women from Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa were studied cross-sectionally. Vaginal carriage of GBS and E. coli, and GBS serotype were assessed using molecular techniques. Risk factors for carriage were identified using multivariable logistic regression analysis.Vaginal carriage rates in reference groups from Kenya and South Africa were 20.2% (95% CI, 13.7-28.7%) and 23.1% (95% CI, 16.2-31.9%), respectively for GBS; and 25.0% (95% CI, 17.8-33.9%) and 27.1% (95% CI, 19.6-36.2%), respectively for E. coli. GBS serotypes Ia (36.8%), V (26.3%) and III (14.0%) were most prevalent. Factors independently associated with GBS and E. coli carriage were Candida albicans, an intermediate vaginal microbiome, bacterial vaginosis, recent vaginal intercourse, vaginal washing, cervical ectopy and working as a sex worker. GBS and E. coli carriage were positively associated.Reduced vaginal GBS carriage rates might be accomplished by advocating behavioral changes such as abstinence from sexual intercourse and by avoidance of vaginal washing during late pregnancy. It might be advisable to explore the inclusion of vaginal carriage of C. albicans, GBS, E. coli and of the presence of cervical ectopy in a risk- and/or screening-based administration of antibiotic prophylaxis. Current phase II GBS vaccines (a trivalent vaccine targeting serotypes Ia, Ib, and III, and a conjugate vaccine targeting serotype III) would not protect the majority of women against carriage in our study population.


PubMed | University of Amsterdam, University of Witwatersrand, Rinda Ubuzima, Ghent University and 2 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2014

Clinical development of vaginally applied products aimed at reducing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, has highlighted the need for a better characterisation of the vaginal environment. We set out to characterise the vaginal environment in women in different settings in sub-Saharan Africa.A longitudinal study was conducted in Kenya, Rwanda and South-Africa. Women were recruited into pre-defined study groups including adult, non-pregnant, HIV-negative women; pregnant women; adolescent girls; HIV-negative women engaging in vaginal practices; female sex workers; and HIV-positive women. Consenting women were interviewed and underwent a pelvic exam. Samples of vaginal fluid and a blood sample were taken and tested for bacterial vaginosis (BV), HIV and other reproductive tract infections (RTIs). This paper presents the cross-sectional analyses of BV Nugent scores and RTI prevalence and correlates at the screening and the enrolment visit.At the screening visit 38% of women had BV defined as a Nugent score of 7-10, and 64% had more than one RTI (N. gonorrhoea, C. trachomatis, T. vaginalis, syphilis) and/or Candida. At screening the likelihood of BV was lower in women using progestin-only contraception and higher in women with more than one RTI. At enrolment, BV scores were significantly associated with the presence of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the vaginal fluid and with being a self-acknowledged sex worker. Further, sex workers were more likely to have incident BV by Nugent score at enrolment.Our study confirmed some of the correlates of BV that have been previously reported but the most salient finding was the association between BV and the presence of PSA in the vaginal fluid which is suggestive of recent unprotected sexual intercourse.


PubMed | University of Witwatersrand, University of Liverpool, Rinda Ubuzima, Ghent University and 2 more.
Type: Evaluation Studies | Journal: Research in microbiology | Year: 2016

A next-generation diagnostic tool for bacterial vaginosis, consisting of quantitative and/or qualitative molecular criteria, has not yet been identified. The optimal diagnostic tool should not only diagnose bacterial vaginosis in diverse populations, but should also detect early signs of transition to dysbiosis. We evaluated a tool based on log10-transformed qPCR data for Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus iners, Lactobacillus jensenii, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus vaginalis, Lactobacillus genus, Atopobium vaginae and Gardnerella vaginalis in vaginal specimens of 426 African women to detect dysbiosis and predict transition to dysbiosis. G. vaginalis (p = 0.204) and A. vaginae (p = 0.001) were more commonly present in women who evolved to an intermediate (Nugent 4-6) or bacterial vaginosis score (Nugent 7-10) compared to women who continued to have a normal Nugent score. The combination of G. vaginalis, A. vaginae and Lactobacillus genus counts performed best for diagnostic accuracy for bacterial vaginosis--sensitivity 93.4% and specificity 83.6%; and for predictive accuracy for bacterial vaginosis--sensitivity 79% and specificity 52%. L. crispatus combinations did not perform well. We conclude that a triple-G. vaginalis-A. vaginae-Lactobacillus genus-qPCR tool holds promise for research in sub-Saharan Africa or when developed as a next-generation clinical diagnostic modality for bacterial vaginosis, ideally engineered as a rapid assay.


PubMed | University of Witwatersrand, University of Liverpool, Rinda Ubuzima, Ghent University and 2 more.
Type: | Journal: BMC infectious diseases | Year: 2015

Women in sub-Saharan Africa are vulnerable to acquiring HIV infection and reproductive tract infections. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption of the vaginal microbiota, has been shown to be strongly associated with HIV infection. Risk factors related to potentially protective or harmful microbiota species are not known.We present cross-sectional quantitative polymerase chain reaction data of the Lactobacillus genus, five Lactobacillus species, and three BV-related bacteria (Gardnerella vaginalis, Atopobium vaginae, and Prevotella bivia) together with Escherichia coli and Candida albicans in 426 African women across different groups at risk for HIV. We selected a reference group of adult HIV-negative women at average risk for HIV acquisition and compared species variations in subgroups of adolescents, HIV-negative pregnant women, women engaging in traditional vaginal practices, sex workers and a group of HIV-positive women on combination antiretroviral therapy. We explored the associations between presence and quantity of the bacteria with BV by Nugent score, in relation to several factors of known or theoretical importance.The presence of species across Kenyan, South African and Rwandan women was remarkably similar and few differences were seen between the two groups of reference women in Kenya and South Africa. The Rwandan sex workers and HIV-positive women had the highest G. vaginalis presence (p=0.006). Pregnant women had a higher Lactobacillus genus mean log (7.01 genome equivalents (geq)/ml) compared to the reference women (6.08 geq/ml). L. vaginalis (43%) was second to L. iners (81.9%) highly present in women with a normal Nugent score. Recent sexual exposure negatively affected the presence of L. crispatus (<0.001), L. vaginalis (p=0.001), and Lactobacillus genus (p<0.001). Having more than one sexual partner in the last three months was associated with an increased prevalence of G. vaginalis (p=0.044) and L. iners (p=0.001).Although the composition of species across the studied African countries was similar, the presence of protective species i.e. L. crispatus and L. vaginalis in women with a normal Nugent score appeared lower compared to non-African studies. Furthermore, Lactobacillus species were negatively affected by sexual behavioural. Strategies to support protective Lactobacillus species are urgently needed.The study is registered at the Trial Registration at the National Health Research Ethics Council South Africa with the number DOH2709103223.

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