Analysis of standard methods for diagnosing vaginitis: HIV infection does not complicate the diagnosis of vaginitis

Beverly E. Sha, Susan H. Gawel, Ronald C. Hershow, Douglas Passaro, Michael Augenbraun, Teresa M. Darragh, Alice Stek, Elizabeth T. Golub, Lorraine Cashin, Michael D. Moxley, Kathleen M. Weber, D. Heather Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. We sought to determine whether the standard diagnostic methods for vaginitis behave similarly among HIV-infected and at-risk seronegative women. MATERIALS AND METHODS. We performed pairwise comparisons over time (1994-2003) for the different diagnostic methods for bacterial vaginosis (BV) (Nugent score and Amsel criteria), vulvovaginal candidiasis (potassium hydroxide smear and Pap smear), and trichomoniasis (culture, wet mount, and Pap smear) among HIV-infected and at-risk HIV seronegative women in the Women's Interagency HIV Study cohort. We stratified subjects by HIV status and among the HIV-infected women by CD4+ cell count strata. RESULTS. For BV and trichomoniasis, κ statistics comparing clinical diagnostic methods to laboratory-based methods improved after the first year. Significant differences in overall κ statistics between HIV-infected and at-risk HIV-seronegative women were found only for vulvovaginal candidiasis where potassium hydroxide smear and Pap smear findings were more tightly correlated among HIV-infected women than among at-risk HIV-seronegative women; among these HIV-infected women, concordance was highest at lower CD4 cell counts. No significant differences in κ statistics were found for the diagnostic methods of BV or trichomoniasis neither by HIV status nor CD4 cell count strata. CONCLUSIONS. The standard diagnostic tests for BV, vulvovaginal candidiasis, and trichomoniasis behave similarly in HIV-infected and at-risk seronegative women. Training and experience are critical for the accurate performance of the diagnostic methods that require clinician interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-250
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of lower genital tract disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Diagnosis
  • HIV infection
  • Vaginitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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