Why are HIV researchers interested in the bacterial and fungal environments present in the human digestive system?
Our bodies are not really ourselves: at least not completely.
Trillions of bacteria, fungus, and viral organisms make their homes throughout and on the surface of the human body in a series of mini ecosystems. Scientists refer to this as the human microbiome. The creatures that live in the microbiome are the microbiota.
Researchers are particularly interested in the microbiota and the composition of the microbiome in the intestinal tract in the stomach or gut. It is there that the microbiome seems particularly lively and where researchers suspect that altering or modulating the multitude of microorganisms that live there can have either ill or beneficial effects upon the health of an individual. One simple example of modulating the quantity of microorganisms in the gut is taking probiotics, such as those in yogurt, which are the types of good bacteria that can aid digestion. Viruses, like HIV, can have a negative impact on the gut microbiome, and there may be links between the gut microbiome and other diseases as well, including Malaria.