Independent Study, The Y.C. Lee Undergraduate Research Award in Biology
The goal of this research project is to determine what biological and immune factors in the vaginal mucosa may inhibit or favor the acquisition of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in women. This project aims to characterize the frequency of CD4 T-cell activation and inflammatory cytokines in the female genital tract (FGT) prior to infection with HIV and assess the correlation with risk for acquisition of the virus. Additionally, it aims to determine if commensal bacterial flora in the FGT influences susceptibility to acquisition. Samples for this study come from a cohort of 300 women in South Africa, where 5.6 million HIV-infected individuals make up approximately 18% of the country’s total population.