Category Archives: Research

If you’re HIV positive, the University of Pittsburgh would like to study your sleep

The SASH study (Impact of Poor Sleep and Inflammation on the Adenosine Signaling Pathway in HIV Infection) seeks to understand how sleep can affect the health of people living with HIV.

man sleepingStudy participants complete questionnaires before and after getting a watch-like device similar to a Fitbit. Subjects wear the device for two weeks, to track their sleep patterns. Subjects also answer a few questions in a diary each morning about their sleep.

The study involves two visits to Montefiore Hospital. Each visit is about one hour in length. There will be a blood draw at the second visit. Note that participants will receive up to $100. Parking vouchers and/or bus fare will also be provided.

For more information, call the study team at 412-330-1453, or send an email to healthysleep@pitt.edu.

As battle against HIV continues, Pitt Men’s Study volunteer joins coronavirus vaccine study

From the Tribune Review online

When drug makers solicited volunteers to test a coronavirus vaccines, Marc Wagner jumped.

It was a matter of giving back. “I never thought I would outlive a number of my relatives my age or younger,” said the 58-year-old Swissvale resident. “And here I am, still alive.”

Marc Wagner

Marc Wagner

Wagner felt compelled to do his part for science. But just as important, it was an opportunity for him to honor the herculean efforts of scientists and others he has met over the last 35 years in his battle against HIV.

As he made final arrangements for the annual remembrance service the community advisory board of the Pitt Men’s Study hosts every year on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, Wager got news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca study he is participating in had proven its covid-19 vaccine to be up to 90% effective.

The news was encouraging, but it hasn’t distracted from the event he and other members of the Men’s Study community consider an important duty: honoring those who have given their lives over to the HIV/AIDS study.

Wagner is among some 2,000 men who volunteered for the study in the 1980s and 90s. About 500 surviving volunteers continue to show up faithfully at Pitt twice a year to provide blood and bodily fluids in the quest for a cure for HIV/AIDS. The Pitt Men’s Study is one of the nation’s longest running scientific research studies.

The University of Pittsburgh is among several centers nationwide in the ongoing Multi-Center AIDS Cohort Study. The federally funded study, funded through 2026, has been the foundation for more than 1,700 papers that have advanced the understanding and treatment of illness.

Honoring the Pitt Men’s Study volunteers, many of whom came forward when HIV/AIDS was a death sentence and some of whom have since died, is a sacred honor, said Charles Rinaldo, a Ph.D. scientist who has led the effort at Pitt for nearly 40 years.

“We could not do it without these men,” said Rinaldo, chairman and professor of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. “For over 30 years, they’ve been coming back religiously. These men are dedicated.”

Their participation over decades has allowed the study to focus, among other things, on the impact of HIV/AIDS in aging.

Use your brain to help people living with HIV

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Nebraska Medical Center are looking for participants living with HIV, and participants not living with HIV, for a non-invasive brain imaging research study.

sculpture of human face and brain

Image courtesy of David Matos

The purpose of the first research study is to investigate brain activity, cognitive functioning, and aging in those living with HIV versus those living without HIV. The human brain and cognitive abilities change as people age, and this research study aims to identify those changes.

The purpose of the second research study is to investigate how chronic cannabis use affects brain activity and cognitive functioning differently in people who are living with HIV and those who are not living with HIV. To study the brain, researchers will be using a series of brain imaging tests, both of which are completely non-invasive. There is no cost to you, and you will receive compensation for your time and travel expenses.

You may be eligible if:

  • You are between the ages of 19 and 72
  • You have not had a stroke or been diagnosed with any neurological or psychiatric disorder(s)
  • You are able to complete a series of mental tasks You are not pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • You either regularly use cannabis or do not use cannabis

This research study is sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. For more information, please call 412-246-5590 or send an email to mindscan2019@gmail.com. You can also download the study brochure.

Switching HIV treatment to delstrigo is safe and effective

From Poz.com

People with HIV who switch from a stable antiretroviral (ARV) regimen to Delstrigo (doravirine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/lamivudine) had a high rate of full suppression of the virus at the three-year mark in a large Phase III clinical trial.

Princy Kumar, MD, of Georgetown University, presented findings from the open-label, randomized, active-controlled, noninferiority DRIVE-SHIFT trial at the virtual HIV Drug Therapy Glasgow meeting.

Delstrigo contains the relatively new non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) Pifeltro (doravirine), which, like Delstrigo, was approved in September 2019.

Read the full article.

People with HIV are living longer

From HIV.gov

The HIV population in the United States is aging. This can be seen as a sign of success as people with HIV are living longer because they are engaged in care and benefiting from effective treatments. Consider these data from the HRSA Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) fact sheet, Older Adult Clients: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, 2018

  • 46.1% of individuals getting RWHAP care are over 50 years old, similar to the age demographics of all Americans diagnosed with HIV
  • 91.5% of those aged over 50 are virally suppressed, exceeding the RWHAP average of 87%.

The aging trend has been underway for many years and is projected to continue. In 2018, RWHAP clients aged 55 and older accounted for 31% of all clients, up significantly from 16.6% in 2010. A large proportion of RWHAP clients (45-54 years old) are on the cusp of joining the 55+ age group.

graph showing increase in age of HIV positive people

The trend is likely to continue. By 2030, 64% of RWHAP clients are projected to be 50+. See the CROI 2019 poster Projected Growth and Needs of Aging People Living with HIV in HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program , presented by HRSA staff and summarized in the HIV.gov blog HRSA Analyzes Growing Ryan White Client Population Over 50 Years Old .

Large NIH Clinical Trial Illuminates Long-Term Health Effects of HIV

From HIV.gov

Initial data from a large NIH-supported clinical trial offer a detailed look at the health status of people aging with HIV around the world. With 7,770 participants enrolled in 12 countries across five continents, the Randomized Trial to Prevent Vascular Events in HIV (REPRIEVE ) is evaluating the ability of a statin medication, pitavastatin, to reduce the risk of heart disease among people with HIV. By leveraging data collected from this diverse group of study participants, researchers also are learning more about the long-term health effects of HIV. They report their initial findings in an August supplement for The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
[…]
For women, accelerated reproductive aging—a natural process that eventually leads to menopause—may heighten risk for heart disease and stroke. Among women with HIV in the REPRIEVE study, more advanced reproductive age was associated with two risk factors for cardiovascular disease: high waist circumference and high blood levels of hemoglobin. Women living in sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America and the Caribbean were more likely to experience accelerated reproductive aging than those living in high-income countries.

The initial REPRIEVE findings also provide insight into the relationship between HIV and heart disease among transgender people, about which little is known. Transgender people are disproportionately affected by HIV, and studies have suggested that hormone use as part of gender-affirming therapy may increase cardiovascular disease risk. By collecting data on gender identity and use of gender-affirming therapy, the REPRIEVE investigators aim to address this knowledge gap. Notably, their initial analysis revealed that high waist circumference was more common among transgender women, particularly those who were receiving gender-affirming therapy.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

FDA approves new HIV treatment for patients with limited treatment options

From the FDA

the FDA logo[On July 2, 2020], the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Rukobia (fostemsavir), a new type of antiretroviral medication for adults living with HIV who have tried multiple HIV medications and whose HIV infection cannot be successfully treated with other therapies because of resistance, intolerance or safety considerations.

“This approval marks a new class of antiretroviral medications that may benefit patients who have run out of HIV treatment options,” said Jeff Murray, M.D., deputy director of the Division of Antivirals in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The availability of new classes of antiretroviral drugs is critical for heavily treatment-experienced patients living with multidrug resistant HIV infection—helping people living with hard-to-treat HIV who are at greater risk for HIV-related complications, to potentially live longer, healthier lives.”

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Can an existing HIV medication slow the spread of COVID-19?

From EurekaAlert

A team of scientists from St. Michael’s Hospital, Sinai Health and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre have launched a clinical trial to understand whether an existing drug used for HIV treatment and prevention may work to prevent COVID-19 infection.

DR. DARRELL TAN

Dr. Darrell Tan

The trial will examine whether post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is a medication a person takes once they’ve been exposed to a virus to prevent infection, could halt or slow the spread of COVID-19 in groups of people who have been exposed to a confirmed case. The drug in question – Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir as PEP)- has long been used in this capacity to prevent HIV in those who have been exposed to the virus.

“Early studies of the use of this medication as post-exposure prophylaxis therapy in other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS have been promising,” says Dr. Darrell Tan, the study’s lead investigator who is also a scientist at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions and an infectious disease physician at St. Michael’s. “These are so-called ‘cousin’ viruses to COVID-19 and we want to understand whether lopinavir/ritonavir as PEP could impact its spread as well.”

Read the full article.

Take the 2020 PA LGBTQ+ Needs Assessment

CenterLink is working with a coalition of more than 25 LGBTQ organizations across the state of Pennsylvania to collect data for the 2020 PA LGBTQ Needs Assessment. This information will be used to fuel new and existing community-based programs designed to close gaps in service and address the unique health needs of our population.

centerlink logos

We are asking you to take the time to raise your voice for LGBTQ health, and be entered in a raffle to win a gift card now, by taking the 2020 PA LGBTQ Needs Assessment here. People can also participate through a Spanish version here.

Every person who partakes in the survey will be helping Pennsylvania’s department of health learn more about how to promote the health and well-being of LGBTQ people and helping our coalition to build a stronger network of LGBTQ community supports across the state.
Thank you for your participation.

Sharable Link: https://lgbtactionlink.org/take-action/blog/2020-pa-lgbtq-needs-assessment

A more convenient, monthly treatment for HIV cleared a key hurdle

From Science News

People living with HIV are one step closer to having a once-a-month treatment alternative to downing two or more pills a day.

Once-a-month injection of antiretrovirals works just as well as a daily pill regimen, trials show

Once-a-month injection of antiretrovirals works just as well as a daily pill regimen, trials show

There is no cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But combination antiretroviral therapy, or ART, can effectively halt the replication of the virus, nearly eliminating it from the bloodstream and prolonging life expectancy (SN: 11/15/19). For the therapy to work, though, people must stick to a daily regimen of two or more pills, which experts say can be a challenge for many.

Now, the results of two phase III clinical trials suggest that a monthly shot of antiretroviral drugs works just as well as daily pills, researchers report March 4 in two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine. If approved by regulators, the therapy could be a more convenient treatment for the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States.

“From a patient perspective, these results are very positive,” says Elizabeth Tolley, an epidemiologist at FHI 360, a public health nonprofit based in Durham, N.C. Stigma can make people reluctant to keep HIV drugs around the house or to take them each day in front of a loved one, she says. A monthly alternative could be a better option for many.

Read the full article.