Women may be the weaker sex when it comes to HIV. The virus progresses faster in women, and a new study published in Nature Medicine finds that may be due to the hormone progesterone, the BBC reports. The research team is continuing work on the findings to see if they can develop a drug to slow or stop HIV’s progression to AIDS.
The study found that women’s immune cells were more active when first presented with the virus than men’s, but post-menopausal women—who have lower levels of progesterone—had responses similar to men. Though the immune activity can be beneficial at first, “stronger chronic immune activation can lead to the faster progression of AIDS that has been seen in women,” the lead researcher says.