Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is associated with an increased rate of sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1, and Gardnerella vaginalis is frequently isolated from the genital tracts of women with BV. G. vaginalis lysates were found to significantly stimulate HIV expression in monocytoid cells. Stimulation was significantly higher when lysates were heated at 100 degrees C for 5 min but was reduced by treatment with lysozyme or protease. G. vaginalis lysates also activated HIV expression in certain T cell lines. G. vaginalis lysates activated HIV long-terminal repeat transcription in HIV-infected cells and increased NF-kappaB binding activity, indicating an effect by G. vaginalis on HIV transcription. The activation of HIV production by G. vaginalis suggests that genital tract infection with G. vaginalis increases the risk of HIV transmission by increasing HIV expression in the genital tract. This may explain, at least in part, the increased rate of HIV transmission in women with BV.
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