Study examines STDs among women-to-women sex partners

October 19, 1999

Researchers at the University of Washington have begun the first extensive study of lesbian and bisexual women and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Lesbian/Bisexual Women's Health Study at the University of Washington is revealing some of its tentative findings on a new Web site, http://www.lesbianstd.com. Researchers are doing so in hopes of attracting more volunteers in this study of a much-misunderstood subject, the sexual health of bisexual and lesbian women. This is the first study of its kind funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health.

The study needs several hundred more volunteers. Recruiters are seeking women research subjects who are 16 years or older and who have had sex with other women within the last year. Participants in the study receive a comprehensive gynecological exam and full STD screenings at no cost. The study is based at the Broadway Clinic, in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood. For more information, call 206-720-4340.

The Web site contains health information relevant to lesbian and bisexual women, information about specific STDs and vaginal conditions, findings so far from the study, and recommendations for "safe sex."

The findings so far among volunteer subjects are providing insights into women's health, says Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, an assistant professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine.

For example, contrary to some beliefs, women who have sex with other women should get regular Pap smears. Even some health providers seem unaware of this, Marrazzo says. "There's a general assumption that sex between women is not as risky as sex between women and men," Marrazzo says. "Some people do believe that they are not at risk for STDs."

Marrazzo and nurse practitioner Kathleen Stine began the Lesbian/Bisexual Women's Health Study after noticing a number of women in their mid-30s who had abnormal Pap smears. These findings helped to secure the first such funding from NIAID to further investigate the true prevalence of various STDs among women who have sex with women, and the routes of transmission.

The study so far has determined that women who have sex with other women are at risk of spreading HPV, the human papillomavirus. It can cause genital warts, cervical dysplasia and, rarely, cervical cancer. Some of the women with the worst pre-cancerous lesions were women who'd never had sex with men, Marrazzo says.

"The bottom line is that no matter what your sexual history is, you need to get a Pap smear," Marrazzo says.

The study has also found that women having sex with other women have a high prevalence of bacterial vaginosis, or BV, for reasons the study is trying to clarify. BV is a common cause of vaginitis and abnormal vaginal discharge. It may also be to blame for one out of five cases of preterm labor or babies born with low birth weights. BV appears to occur more often among lesbian women than among all women as a group.

The study is also examining the possible transmission of other STDs, including herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
-end-


University of Washington

Related Human Papillomavirus Articles from Brightsurf:

The National Human Genome Research Institute publishes new vision for human genomics
The National Human Genome Research Institute this week published its 'Strategic vision for improving human health at The Forefront of Genomics' in the journal Nature.

Emerging infectious disease and challenges of social distancing in human and non-human animals
Humans are not the only social animal struggling with new infectious diseases.

Powerful human-like hands create safer human-robotics interactions
A team of engineers designed and developed a novel humanoid hand that may be able to help human-robotic interactions.

Human embryo-like model created from human stem cells
Scientists have developed a new model to study an early stage of human development, using human embryonic stem cells.

Human papillomavirus confers radiosensitivity in oropharyngeal cancer cells
The cover for issue 16 of Oncotarget features Figure 6, 'Radiation-induced DNA damage measured by γ-H2AX foci formation at a specified time point after 10 Gy irradiation,' by Zhang, et al.

The Lancet: 2019 novel coronavirus is genetically different to human SARS and should be considered a new human-infecting coronavirus
A new genetic analysis of 10 genome sequences of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from nine patients in Wuhan finds that the virus is most closely related to two bat-derived SARS-like coronaviruses, according to a study published in The Lancet.

'Substantially human,' a good starting point for determining boundaries of what's human
Recent and rapid developments in the biosciences continually blur the lines between human beings and other living organisms, while straining the legal definitions of what is or is not human.

Differences in human and non-human primate saliva may be caused by diet
Humans are known to be genetically similar to our primate relatives.

Cervical cancer is more aggressive when human papillomavirus is not detected
Cervical cancer negative for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is rare but more aggressive: it is more frequently diagnosed at advanced stages, with more metastasis and reduced survival.

Human history through tree rings: Trees in Amazonia reveal pre-colonial human disturbance
The Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa) is well known around the world today and has been an important part of human subsistence strategies in the Amazon forest from at least the Early Holocene.

Read More: Human Papillomavirus News and Human Papillomavirus Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.