Amidst the deluge of HIV research being published in journals and presented at scientific meetings nearly every day, it can be easy to forget that science is -- despite its cold, dispassionate, data-centric approach -- a very human endeavor. Each achievement we celebrate in the fight against HIV is a human success, and each study we embark on to further that fight is a remarkable collaboration between a team of people united by an inspiring common goal.
While the end result of most HIV research comes in the form of a dense scientific paper, the actual process of executing a study is often a much more colorful affair. The teams of health professionals at the heart of these studies often provide one another with support, respect, and trust -- and that in turn motivates each person even further.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a small group of researchers led by Tonia Poteat, Ph.D., M.P.H., PA-C, has begun to seek answers to an interesting question: How do stigma and other stressors lead to comorbidities among transgender women living with HIV? The study is fueled by a National Institutes of Health grant -- and by the closeness of the team Poteat has assembled to execute it.
Meanwhile, Poteat continues to work on research she began during her time at Johns Hopkins University, where she was an assistant professor from 2012 until 2018. Among those projects is a study exploring HIV risk among trans-attracted men -- men who partner with transgender women.
We asked a few of the team members working on these studies -- Poteat herself, research coordinator Jenny Williams, and postdoctoral fellow Darius Scott -- to share their thoughts on their work, as well as on one another, as they pursue their research.