The innate immunity of the vaginal tract provides first-line defense from abnormal
microorganisms or overgrowth of common organisms, such as Candida species or Gardnerella
vaginalis. It is unclear from the current available literature whether the rate of vaginal
infection increases or decreases in frequency during pregnancy when compared to the
non-pregnant state, but this may be predicted by shifts in vaginal innate immunity. Vaginal
infections are important players in HIV disease, potentially increasing the risk of viral
transmission. In addition, these infections may activate inflammatory markers in the
reproductive tract and increase the risk of premature delivery or other negative pregnancy
outcomes. The vaginal innate immune system has not been well characterized in pregnant women,
or in women with HIV infection. The study of how this system changes in pregnancy and HIV
infection will provide essential knowledge for further study of vaginal mucosal protection.
The investigators study is an observational study designed to compare levels of vaginal
innate immunity markers in women based on a) pregnancy status and b) HIV infection status.
Comparisons will be made between pregnant and non- pregnant women and between HIV positive
and HIV negative women. The investigators hypothesize that there will be significant
differences in levels of innate immunity between the groups.