Pathogenic lower genital tract organisms in HIV-infected and uninfected women, and their association with postpartum infectious morbidity
Objectives. To determine the prevalence of vaginal pathogens during pregnancy and their impact on postpartum infectious morbidity among antiretroviral-naïve HIV-infected, and HIVuninfected, women. Methods. Vaginal swabs were obtained during early labour by speculum examination prior to digital vaginal examination, and sent for microscopy and culture. Women were assessed for infectious complications within 24 - 72 hours of delivery, and up to 2 weeks postpartum. Results. Laboratory results were available for 801 women who delivered vaginally (418 HIV infected and 383 uninfected). The baseline characteristics of the two groups were comparable, and the median CD4 count for HIV-infected women (N=391) was 416/μl. Fifty-five per cent (54.8%) of women had positive cultures (439/801), more among those who were HIV infected than uninfected (60% v. 49.1%, p=0.002). Women with positive cultures had slightly higher rates of infectious morbidity than those without (20.5% v. 15.2%, p=0.052). Trichomonas vaginalis and group B streptococci were significantly associated with sepsis (p=0.023 and <0.001, respectively), whereas the presence of Candida species seemed to be protective (relative risk 0.69, p=0.014). Conclusion. The study shows that a high proportion of pregnant women have pathogenic organisms in the lower genital tract that are associated with development of postpartum infectious morbidity.