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Table 4 Research tests that will be performed in the study

From: The ring plus project: safety and acceptability of vaginal rings that protect women from unintended pregnancy

Facility where the tests will be performed Tests that will be performed
Laboratory at RU or in another laboratory in Rwanda 1. A vaginal smear will be used for BV diagnosis and a microscopic description of the vaginal flora. The current gold standard for BV diagnosis in research settings is the Nugent score. This method relies on the semi-quantification of the bacterial morphotypes observed in a vaginal smear after Gram staining. The modified Ison & Hay grading is another system to describe the vaginal flora and provides more details on the Lactobacillus species compared to the Nugent score. The Nugent score will be used to diagnose BV and offer treatment to the women, whereas the modified Ison & Hay grading will be used for research purposes only.
2. Luminex and ELISA cytokine testing will be used to identify women who had vaginal inflammation. All samples that will be showing elevated cytokine levels, as well as an equal number of controls not showing elevated cytokine levels, will be tested further for the presence of proteins involved in inflammatory pathways.
HIV/STI reference laboratory at ITM 1. Vaginal swabs will be tested with molecular amplification techniques for the characterization and quantification of the vaginal microbiome. Smears and an aliquot of the urine samples will be fixated and shipped to ITM to study the changes in phenotype of BV-related bacteria (from dispersed forms to adhesive forms on epithelial cells) to identify biofilm formation. Dispersed and adherent bacteria will be assessed in a multicolour analysis with a mix of differently stained group-specific and universal bacterial probes and visualized by confocal imaging.
2. The biofilms formed on the CVRs will be visualized using crystal violet staining and/or abbreviation.