As people get older, the immune system can become less effective at dealing with infectious diseases. This decreased immune function can be highly variable from person to person, and at different ages in life. Many people carry a virus (called cytomegalovirus) for their whole life – this virus causes no symptoms in most people, but may influence how their immune system works as they get older. This process of “immune aging” may happen more quickly in people with HIV infection.
This study will examine immunity in a very large group of healthy individuals between the ages of 21 up to 100+ years. The goal of the study is to learn why some individuals have an increased sensitivity to new infections, such as West Nile Virus, and/or poor response to vaccinations (such as the flu vaccine). This information will be used to discover which parts of immunity may not be working properly.