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2016 Grants - Rivera-Mindt
Alzheimer’s, Cerebrovascular, and Sociocultural Factors for Dementia in HIV
Monica Rivera-Mindt, Ph.D.
Bronx, New York
2016 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)d
What risk factors contribute to cognitive impairment in older Latinos living with HIV?
In some individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, the virus can enter the brain and impact the function of nerve cells. This can lead to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), which are characterized by a decline in memory abilities and everyday functioning. Compared to non-Hispanic whites (NHWs), Latinos living with HIV are at a higher risk for HAND. Because Latinos are also at a greater risk for dementia, it is possible that Alzheimer’s disease may contribute to HAND, but the relationship between these diseases is unclear. In addition, the genetic and sociocultural factors that may contribute to increased risk for HAND or Alzheimer’s in the HIV-positive Latino population are not yet known.
Monica Rivera-Mindt, Ph.D. and colleagues have planned a study to examine brain structure and function in a group of Latino and NHW older individuals who are HIV-positive. They will use brain scans to measure changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and determine how genetics, cerebrovascular health (the brain’s blood vessels) and sociocultural factors may differ by ethnicity and impact disease risk and progression. Dr. Rivera-Mindt predicts that Alzheimer’s-like changes in the brain will be associated with the development of HAND in Hispanics. The research team plans to identify what combination of risk factors may contribute to these changes.
The results of these studies could shed new light on the complex interaction of risk factors that underlie HAND and Alzheimer’s disease. This work could also improve our understanding of cultural health disparities, and inform the development of targeted treatments or risk-reducing strategies to prevent cognitive decline in individuals living with HIV.