WWLTV (New Orleans) (04.02.13)
Aids Weekly Plus
Doctors at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center report discovering Mnola, a previously unknown mycoplasma bacterium that is associated with trichomonas vaginalis (trichomonas). Trichomonas is a common sexually transmitted infection that is associated with pre-term delivery and increases the risk of HIV infection in women. Women with both trichomonas and mycoplasma bacterial communities have worse disease than other women who have only trichomonas, according to Dr. David H. Martin, professor and chief of infectious diseases at LSU’s Health Sciences Center. Martin believes the added presence of mycoplasma Mnola makes the risk of HIV higher than infection with trichomonas alone.
Another bacterium, mycoplasma hominis, has long been associated with trichomonas. The discovery of Mnola suggested the need to reexamine the relationship of vaginal mycoplasma bacteria communities with trichomonas.
Whereas the researchers once thought that the presence of vaginal bacterial colonies predisposed women to infection with trichomonas, the team now believes that trichomonas is responsible for the appearance of mycoplasma-dominated bacterial communities. Martin theorizes that trichomonas actually “cultivates” Mnola and mycoplasma hominis because the mycoplasma communities somehow benefit the parasite. Future research will focus on how Mnola interacts with trichomonas and whether trichomonas is responsible for the appearance of the vaginal bacterial colonies.
Vaginal discharge and redness of the vaginal wall can be symptoms of infection, but some women are asymptomatic. Martin stated that women can be tested for the parasite and bacterial infections in a doctor’s office.
The full report, “Unique Vaginal Microbiota Which Include an Unknown Mycoplasma-like Organism Are Associated with Trichomonas Vaginalis Infection,” was published online in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2013; doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit100).