A subset of women who apparently are resistant to HIV infection may provide scientists with the genetic and immune system information they need to advance vaccine and drug development. Since 1985, investigators have tracked groups of commercial sex workers in Kenya who do not become infected with HIV despite repeatedly having sex without condoms. If investigators can understand what constitutes and results in protective immunity against HIV, they may be able to replicate it through vaccines. Dr. Plummer's team is conducting an exhaustive analysis of the immunologic and genetic factors that mediate HIV resistance in the women, with the goal of gaining a more complete understanding of what constitutes protective immunity against HIV infection.
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