The Female Reproductive Tract and HIV: Biological, Social and Epidemiological Aspects


The mission of the AJRI is to expand our knowledge of the role of the immune system in reproduction from multiple aspects and perspectives. A critical and expanding field is associated with our understanding of the mucosal immune system in the female reproductive tract (FRT) and its role in protection and procreation. This is an intriguing and growing field that is revealing aspects that in the past were never considered as physiologic.

This special issue of the AJRI, edited by Drs Charles Wira and Jennifer Klot, presents a non-conventional subject for the journal: sexual violence and HIV transmission.

Although the title may not be a regular subject of the journal, the content of the articles presents intriguing and challenging concepts that reveal our poor understanding of the importance of the integrity of the FRT, both lower and upper, for successful protection against sexually transmitted infections – and even more relevant – HIV infection.

Drs Wira and Klot have assembled an outstanding selection of articles that cover biological, social and epidemiological aspects of injury to the reproductive tract and its consequences for HIV infection.

As Drs Venkatesh and Cu-Uvin indicate in their review: ‘Assessing the relationship between cervical ectopy and HIV susceptibility: implications for HIV prevention in women’, the biological factors of the FRT have been overlooked for a long time. The efforts of Dr Wira and his colleagues bring the biology of the FRT to new levels when measured in the physiological, social and epidemiological context.

Social and cultural aspects alter the biology, and occasionally with detrimental consequences. Prevention and therapies that do not take into account social and cultural aspects will end in failure. This issue is unique and the first of its kind to address both the biological and behavioral issues that impact on HIV acquisition/transmission. It focuses both on the impact of genital trauma and the social epidemiological impact of forced and coercive sex on HIV acquisition.

The Editorial Office of the AJRI congratulates Drs Wira and Klot for their outstanding accomplishment in compiling and editing this supplement. We also acknowledge the support of Mrs Lisbeth B. Cranfield, the Journal Publishing Manager, and her team for their commitment and invaluable assistance in making this effort a reality.

We are confident that the information presented in this supplement will serve as a valuable instrument to the members of the reproductive immunology community by expanding our perspective of the field. This is a sure way to bring vital progress in understanding and combating a disease that continues to cause so much pain in so many parts of the world.


The author has no potential conflicts of interest to declare.