Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bacterial vaginosis and race

Bacterial vaginosis is a common disease among reproductive-aged women and its incidence correlates with the number of lifetime sex partners. The incidence of bacterial vaginosis also correlates with ethnicity, being 51.4% of non-Hispanic blacks, 31.9% of Mexican Americans, and 23.2% of non-Hispanic whites. High incidences have also been found in sub-Saharan Africa. The reasons for these differences among ethnic groups are unknown, but it may be that the species composition of vaginal communities could be governed by genetically determined differences between hosts. These might include differences in innate and adaptive immune systems, the composition and quantity of vaginal secretions, and ligands on epithelial cell surfaces, among others. The ultimate cause may be vaginal pH, which is higher in blacks and Hispanics than in Asians and non-Hispanic whites.

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