BUSM, BUSPH, BMC Awarded $12.3 Million from NIAAA

Funding will examine impact of alcohol on comorbidities among those with HIV 

BUSM researchers together with colleagues from BU School of Public Health (BUSPH), Boston Medical Center (BMC), the University of California at San Francisco and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center have received $12.3 million in grant funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). COM Urban ArchThese five-year grants will be used to further study the intersection between alcohol use and people living with HIV/AIDS by the Uganda Russia Boston Alcohol Network for Alcohol Research Collaboration on HIV/AIDS (URBAN ARCH) Consortium.

URBAN ARCH has been a member of the larger NIAAA initiative Consortiums for HIV/AIDS and Alcohol Research Translation (CHAART) since 2011. The program follows cohorts of people living with HIV in Uganda, Russia and the US in order to investigate how alcohol use affects HIV clinical manifestations and how treatments beyond antiretroviral therapy (ART) might mitigate alcohol-related harms. This funding will allow the Consortium to examine the consequences of alcohol use on comorbidities among people living with HIV including tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease and falls, so as to increase availability of treatments and improve outcomes.

The Consortium will build on three existing HIV-infected cohorts from Boston, Uganda and Russia with distinctive strengths and well-characterized alcohol consumption patterns.  The Boston cohort will examine the associations between alcohol and falls, fractures and frailty in people living with HIV infection and develop and test the feasibility of a falls prevention intervention. The two international cohorts will study clinical issues that would not be possible in the US, yet have important implications for its HIV-infected populations, specifically tuberculosis treatment among drinkers in Uganda and medications to reduce both alcohol and tobacco use in Russia.

Principal investigator Jeffrey Samet
Consortium principal investigator Jeffrey Samet

According to the researchers due to improved HIV treatment and access to ART, people are living longer with HIV which has resulted in an increase in comorbidities. “Unhealthy alcohol use is prevalent in this population and is associated with increased risks and worse outcomes for multiple adverse health conditions, such as TB, cardiovascular disease and falls. In order to improve health outcomes for alcohol-using individuals living with HIV, clinical researchers should address high-priority comorbid health conditions in settings amenable to the conduct of such epidemiologic and clinical intervention studies,” explained Consortium principal investigator Jeffrey Samet, MD, MA, MPH, professor of medicine at BUSM and chief of the section of general internal medicine at BMC.

Samet believes URBAN ARCH is well-positioned to investigate the complex relationship between HIV, alcohol and comorbidities among people living with HIV to address and accelerate the development of more effective treatments.

Researchers also leading this effort include Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, chair and professor of the department of community health sciences at BUSPH and professor of medicine at BUSM; Debbie Cheng, ScD, professor of biostatistics at BUSPH; Judith Hahn, PhD, MA, associate professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco Division of HIV, ID and Global Medicine; Matthew Freiberg, MD, MSc, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Clinical Cardiovascular Outcomes Research and Trials Evaluation and associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Hilary Tindle, MD, MPH, founding director of the Vanderbilt Center for Tobacco, Addictions and Lifestyle and associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.