Bacterial vaginosis (BV) enhances the acquisition and transmission of a range of sexually transmitted infections including human immunodeficiency virus. This has made it more important to uncover the reasons why some populations have very high BV prevalences and others not. This systematic review describes the global epidemiology of BV. It summarizes data from peer-reviewed publications detailing the population prevalence of BV as diagnosed by a standardized and reproducible methodology-Nugent scoring system. BV variations between countries, and between ethnic groups within countries, are described. We evaluated 1692 English- and non-English-language articles describing the prevalence of BV using MEDLINE and the Web of Science databases. A total of 86 articles met our inclusion criteria. BV prevalences were found to vary considerably between ethnic groups in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Although BV prevalence is, in general, highest in parts of Africa and lowest in much of Asia and Europe, some populations in Africa have very low BV prevalences and some in Asia and Europe have high rates.
HIV/STD Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium; Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.