NICHD to Fund Research on HIV Infection in Women
The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development will give $3.5 million annually over the next five years to fund three sites that will research how HIV infection affects teen and adult women. According to an NICHD release, the centers will study various populations of women, including minorities, lesbians, women who abuse substances, and those experiencing or approaching menopause, and will seek to identify biological factors unique to women that may affect how women become infected with HIV, how they transmit it to others, how the disease progresses in them and how it affects women differently than men. NICHD Director Duane Alexander said, "Women infected with HIV have problems associated with HIV-infection that are unique to their sex, including gynecological infections and uterine malignancies." In particular, one research project will focus on how the environment of the female genital tract influences HIV infections, including the effects of bacterial vaginosis, a type of vaginal infection, on HIV, and whether substances in cervical secretions may increase HIV susceptibility. Researchers will also investigate how female genital responses against the virus can be boosted with an HIV vaccine. A second project will study the effect of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone on HIV and how antiretrovirals are metabolized. "Theses new centers will help us better understand how HIV uniquely affects women and will help us improve treatment and save the lives of HIV-positive women and their babies," HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said (NICHD release, 9/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.