The gut and oral microbiome in HIV disease: a workshop report.

Recent years have seen a massive expansion in our understanding of how we interact with our microbial colonists. The development of new, rapid sequencing techniques such as pyrosequencing and other next-generation sequencing systems have enabled us to begin to characterise the constituents of our diverse microbial communities, revealing the astonishing genetic richness that is our microbiome. Despite this, our ignorance of how these communities change over the course of an HIV infection is profound. Whilst some steps have been made to characterise the HIV microbiome at selected sites, these reports are still limited and much remains to be done. It has become apparent, however, that host-microbiota interactions are perturbed during HIV infections, with microbial translocation of potential pathogens linked to a variety of different HIV complications, including more rapid progression of disease. The use of probiotics and prebiotics has been investigated as treatments to alleviate symptoms for a variety of conditions, and is now being proposed for the treatment of symptoms associated with HIV. However, this is a new area of investigations and many questions remain unanswered. What we know about both of these topics is a drop in the ocean compared with what we need to know. In this article, we report on a workshop where these two major under-investigated research areas were presented, and future directions explored and discussed.

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