State of the Art for Diagnosis of Bacterial Vaginosis

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Journal of Clinical Microbiology


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginal discharge among reproductive-age women. It is associated with multiple adverse health outcomes, including increased risk of acquisition of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), in addition to adverse birth outcomes. While it is known that BV is a vaginal dysbiosis characterized by a shift in the vaginal microbiota from protective Lactobacillus species to an increase in facultative and strict anaerobic bacteria, its exact etiology remains unknown. The purpose of this minireview is to provide an updated overview of the range of tests currently used for the diagnosis of BV in both clinical and research settings. This article is divided into two primary sections: traditional BV diagnostics and molecular diagnostics. Molecular diagnostic assays, particularly 16S rRNA gene sequencing, shotgun metagenomic sequencing, and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), are specifically highlighted, in addition to multiplex nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), given their increasing use in clinical practice (NAATs) and research studies (16S rRNA gene sequencing, shotgun metagenomic sequencing, and FISH) regarding the vaginal microbiota and BV pathogenesis. We also provide a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of current BV diagnostic tests and discuss future challenges in this field of research.

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