August 1, 2013
The National Institutes of Health awarded $16 million that would allow Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center researchers to continue work on the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), established in 1993. WIHS is a "multi-center, prospective, observational study" of HIV-infected women and women at high risk for HIV infection.
Chief aims of WIHS research include identifying natural immune factors in the female genital tract that protect against HIV, learning how HIV transfers from person to person on the cellular level, and discovering factors that predict successful HIV treatment. Another goal of WIHS research is to explore whether epigenetic changes that took place in the HIV provirus could present an opportunity to cure the virus.
According to Principal Investigator Dr. Kathy Anastos, understanding the long-term effects of HIV infection and treatment and identifying factors that predict a good response to treatment are essential since antiretroviral therapies had transformed HIV into a chronic condition for millions of HIV-infected people around the world. Anastos's team recruited 800 of the 3,800 WIHS study participants and assembled a biorepository of more than 400,000 samples from participants. Some WIHS participants have seen Anastos for checkups every six months for 19 years.