Almost half of the men and women living with HIV in the United States are 50 years old or older, according to the National Institutes of Health. To understand and reduce the impact of chronic health conditions that affect people living with HIV, two national cohort studies have combined to focus on both men and women.
The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) and the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) have operated separately for decades, with MACS studying gay and bisexual men and WIHS studying women at risk for or living with HIV. By combining the two studies to create the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study, researchers hope to spur new scientific discoveries by sharing and comparing data/biospecimens from both cohorts.
“By combining the two cohorts, we will be able to ascertain clinical outcomes among HIV patients that in general occur more frequently and earlier than in the general population,” said Mirjam-Colette Kempf, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing and a principal investigator of the MACS/WIHS site at UAB. “Cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal diseases, pulmonary and sleep disorders, cancer, neurocognitive disorders, and depression are known to be more severe among people living with HIV. Using longitudinal data, we can study co-existing medical conditions and how they manifest themselves differently among people living with HIV in comparison to HIV-negative populations.”
The National Institutes of Health awarded UAB a seven-year grant of $16.8 million to operate as one of the 13 clinical sites of the study. UAB has worked with the University of Mississippi Medical Center since 2013 as a WIHS site and will continue to work together as a MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort site, with UAB as the primary location.
Through the grant, which is administered by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, researchers across the country will study 2,283 men and 2,366 women currently enrolled in MACS and WIHS. The goal is to promote healthy aging among individuals living with HIV.
“We know that people living with HIV are not aging as well as those without HIV,” Kempf said. “The new MACS/WIHS CCS will provide a unique opportunity to understand and study factors that contribute to the disproportional disease burden among people living with HIV, considering gender, racial/ethnic, and social/structural differences across the United States.”
UAB will begin recruiting new male participants in January 2020, given its location within the epicenter for the United States HIV epidemic — the Deep South. Visit the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study website for more information.