Pilot Award Recipient: Matt Levy, PhD

Psychological Stress, Related Biomarkers, and Atherosclerosis in Women with HIV

Dr. Levy
January 08, 2019
Women living with HIV (WLWH) have around a three-times greater risk of cardiovascular disease compared with HIV-negative women. Reasons for this increased risk are not well understood. One factor that could be contributing to the high risk of cardiovascular disease among WLWH is psychological stress and trauma. In the general population, stress and trauma are known to increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Although WLWH are highly affected by stress/trauma, the relationship between stress/trauma and cardiovascular disease risk among WLWH has not been studied.
The first objective of this study is to see if stress and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are associated with atherosclerosis (the presence of plaque in the arteries) among WLWH compared with HIV-negative women. We will use data collected from 778 women (571 HIV+; 207 HIV-) enrolled in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) who participated in the cardiovascular sub-study over a 7-year period. The second objective of this study is to see if laboratory results for tests related to stress (such as cortisol and epinephrine) are different between WLWH and HIV-negative women. We will recruit 100 WIHS participants (50 HIV+; 50 HIV-) at the DC WIHS site for collection of 12-hour overnight urine and blood serum samples.