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Strong association between the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis and male point-concurrency.

OBJECTIVE: The prevalence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) differs considerably between different populations, and individual-level risk factors such as number of sex partners seem unable to explain these differences. The effect of network-level factors, such as the prevalence of partner concurrency (the proportion of sexual partnerships that overlap in time as opposed to running sequentially) on BV prevalence has not hitherto been investigated.

STUDY DESIGN: We performed linear regression to assess the relationship between the prevalence of male concurrency and prevalence of BV in each of 11 countries for which we could obtain comparable data. The data for concurrency prevalence were taken from the WHO/Global Programme on AIDS (GPA) sexual behavioural surveys. BV prevalence rates were obtained from a systematic review of the global patterning of BV.

RESULTS: We found a strong relationship between the prevalence of male concurrency and BV prevalence (Pearson's R(2)=0.57; P=0.007).

CONCLUSIONS: The findings of a strong ecological-level association between BV and partner concurrency need to be replicated and augmented with different types of studies such as multilevel prospective studies tracking the incidence of BV and associated individual, partner and network level risk factors.

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