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1.  The association of perceived stress and verbal memory is greater in HIV-infected versus HIV-uninfected women 
Journal of neurovirology  2015;21(4):422-432.
In contrast to findings from cohorts comprised primarily of HIV-infected men, verbal memory deficits are the largest cognitive deficit found in HIV-infected women from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), and this deficit is not explained by depressive symptoms or substance abuse. HIV-infected women may be at greater risk for verbal memory deficits due to a higher prevalence of cognitive risk factors such as high psychosocial stress and lower socioeconomic status. Here, we investigate the association between perceived stress using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) and verbal memory performance using the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test (HVLT) in 1009 HIV-infected and 496 at-risk HIV-uninfected WIHS participants. Participants completed a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery which yielded seven cognitive domain scores, including a primary outcome of verbal memory. HIV infection was not associated with a higher prevalence of high perceived stress (i.e., PSS-10 score in the top tertile) but was associated with worse performance on verbal learning (p<0.01) and memory (p<0.001), as well as attention (p=0.02). Regardless of HIV status, high stress was associated with poorer performance in those cognitive domains (p’s< 0.05) as well as processing speed (p=0.01) and executive function (p<0.01). A significant HIV by stress interaction was found only for the verbal memory domain (p=0.02); among HIV-infected women only, high stress was associated with lower performance (p’s<0.001). That association was driven by the delayed verbal memory measure in particular. These findings suggest that high levels of perceived stress contribute to the deficits in verbal memory observed in WIHS women.
PMCID: PMC4562210  PMID: 25791344
HIV; Verbal memory; Stress; Women; Cognition
2.  An investigation of menopausal stage and symptoms on cognition in HIV-infected women 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2014;21(9):997-1006.
We evaluated the separate and interactive associations of menopausal stage, menopausal symptoms, and HIV infection on cognition. We hypothesized that HIV-infected, perimenopausal women would show the greatest cognitive difficulties and that menopausal symptoms would be inversely associated with cognition.
This cross-sectional study included 708 HIV-infected and 278 HIV-uninfected, pre-, peri-, or postmenopausal women (64% African-American; median age 44 years) from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. Participants completed tests of verbal learning and memory, attention/processing speed, and executive function. We administered a menopausal symptom questionnaire that assessed anxiety, vasomotor, and sleep symptoms and obtained measures of depressive symptoms.
In multivariable regression analyses controlling for relevant covariates, HIV infection, but not menopausal stage, was associated with worse performance on all cognitive measures (p’s<0.05). Depressive symptoms were associated with lower cognitive performance on measures of verbal learning and memory, attention, and executive function (p’s<0.05); anxiety symptoms were associated with lower performance on measures of verbal learning and memory (p’s<0.05). Vasomotor symptoms were associated with worse attention (p<0.05). HIV and anxiety symptoms interacted to influence verbal learning (p’s<0.05); elevated anxiety was associated with worse verbal learning in HIV-infected women only.
Vasomotor, depressive, and anxiety symptoms, but not menopausal stage, were associated with worse cognitive performance in both HIV-infected and uninfected women, although elevated anxiety symptoms were associated with verbal learning deficits more in HIV-infected women. Since cognitive problems can interfere with everyday functioning including treatment adherence, it may be important to screen and treat anxiety in HIV-infected women.
PMCID: PMC4119867  PMID: 24496085
HIV; Verbal Learning; Menopause; Mood; Anxiety; African American
3.  Crack cocaine use impairs anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex function in women with HIV infection 
Journal of neurovirology  2014;20(4):352-361.
Crack cocaine use is associated with impaired verbal memory in HIV-infected women more than -uninfected women. To understand the neural basis for this impairment, this study examined the effects of crack cocaine use on activation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and strategic encoding during a verbal memory task in HIV-infected women.
Three groups of HIV-infected women from the Chicago Consortium of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study were compared: current users of crack cocaine (n=10), former users of cocaine (n=11), and women who had never used cocaine (n=9). Participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a verbal memory task and completed a neuropsychological test of verbal memory.
On the neuropsychological test, current crack users performed significantly worse than other groups on semantic clustering, a measure of strategic encoding, p < .05. During encoding, activation in left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was lower in current and former cocaine users compared to never users. During recognition, activation in bilateral PFC, specifically left dorsal medial PFC and bilateral dorsolateral PFC, was lower in current and former users compared to women who had never used cocaine. Lower activation in left dorsolateral PFC was correlated with worse performance on the recognition task, p < .05.
The verbal learning and memory deficits associated with cocaine use in women with HIV may be partially accounted for by alterations in ACC and PFC function.
PMCID: PMC4090256  PMID: 24760360
HIV; crack cocaine; African American; verbal memory; fMRI; prefrontal cortex
4.  Sexual Minority Status and Violence Among HIV Infected and At-Risk Women 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2014;29(8):1131-1138.
Sexual minority women with and at-risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may face increased risks of violence.
To understand the relationship between sexual minority status and violence; and how high-risk sex and substance use mediate that relationship among women with and at-risk for HIV.
Longitudinal study of 1,235 HIV infected and 508 uninfected women of the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) cohort, from New York City, NY, Chicago, IL, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, CA, 1994–2012.
Primary exposures are sexual identity (heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian/gay) and sexual behavior (male, female, or male & female partners). Primary outcomes are sexual abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV) and physical violence; high-risk sex and substance use were examined as mediators.
Bisexual women were at increased odds for sexual abuse [aOR 1.56 (1.00, 2.44)], IPV [aOR 1.50 (1.08, 2.09)], and physical violence [aOR 1.77 (1.33, 2.37)] compared to heterosexual women. In a separate analysis, women who reported sex with men and women (WSMW) had increased odds for sexual abuse [aOR 1.65 (0.99, 2.77], IPV [aOR 1.50 (1.09, 2.06)] and physical violence [aOR 2.24 (1.69, 2.98)] compared to women having sex only with men (WSM). Using indirect effects, multiple sex partners, cocaine and marijuana were significant mediators for most forms of abuse. Transactional sex was only a mediator for bisexual women. Women who reported sex only with women (WSW) had lower odds of sexual abuse [aOR 0.23 (0.06, 0.89)] and physical violence [aOR 0.42 (0.21, 0.85)] compared to WSM.
Women who identify as bisexual or report both male and female sex partners are most vulnerable to violence; multiple recent sex partners, transactional sex and some types of substance use mediate this relationship. Acknowledging sexual identity and behavior, while addressing substance use and high-risk sex in clinical and psychosocial settings, may help reduce violence exposure among women with and at-risk for HIV.
PMCID: PMC4099466  PMID: 24700180
gay and lesbian health; IPV; sexual assault; HIV/AIDS; women’s health
5.  Smoking Cessation and Recidivism in the Women's Interagency Human Immunodeficiency Virus Study 
Smoking increases the risk of morbidity and mortality and is particularly harmful to HIV-infected people.
To explore smoking trends and longitudinal factors associated with smoking cessation and recidivism among participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study.
From 1994 through 2011, 2,961 HIV-infected and 981 HIV-uninfected women were enrolled and underwent semi-annual interviews and specimen collection. Smoking prevalence was evaluated annually and risk factors associated with time to smoking cessation and recidivism were analyzed in 2013 using survival models.
The annual cigarette smoking prevalence declined from 57% in 1995 to 39% in 2011 (p-trend<0.0001). Among smokers, factors significantly associated with a longer time to smoking cessation included less education, alcohol use, having health insurance, >10-year smoking duration, self-reported poor health rating, and having hypertension. Pregnancy in the past 6 months was associated with a shorter time to cessation. Among HIV-infected women, additional risk factors for longer time to cessation included lower household income, use of crack/cocaine/heroin, CD4 cell count ≤200, and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) use. Predictors of smoking recidivism included marijuana use, enrollment in 1994–1996, and not living in one's own place. Among HIV-infected women, enrollment in 2001-2002 and crack/cocaine/heroin use were associated with a shorter time to recidivism, whereas older age and HAART use were associated with a longer time to recidivism.
Despite declining rates of cigarette smoking, integrated interventions are needed to help women with and at risk for HIV infection to quit smoking and sustain cessation.
PMCID: PMC4065848  PMID: 24746376
6.  Psychosocial Correlates of Gender-Based Violence Among HIV-Infected and HIV-Uninfected Women in Three US Cities 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2014;28(5):260-267.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is common among women with and at risk for HIV, yet little is known about the GBV associated psychological factors that could be modifiable through behavioral interventions. The current study examined the associations between some of these psychological factors (i.e., hopelessness, consideration of future consequences, self esteem), mental health symptoms, substance abuse, and GBV among a sample of 736 HIV-infected and sociodemographically similar uninfected participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). Results indicated high rates of lifetime GBV among the sample (58%), as well as high rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) (22.2%). HIV-infected women were more likely to be hopeless and to experience lower consideration of future consequences as compared to uninfected women. Multivariable analysis indicated that current non-injection drug use and a history of injection drug use were the main correlates of GBV and CSA, even when other psychosocial variables were included in analytic models. Being born outside of the US reduced the likelihood of GBV and CSA. Future research directions and intervention implications are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4011431  PMID: 24724987
7.  Longitudinal Anthropometric Patterns Among HIV-infected and –uninfected Women 
Previous studies suggest that indicators of central adiposity such as waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and waist circumference may be altered by HIV infection, antiretroviral (ARV) treatment or both.
Waist and hip circumference and body mass index (BMI) were measured among participants of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) semiannually from 1999 to 2004. Generalized linear models evaluated longitudinal patterns of these measures and associations with demographic and clinical characteristics.
WHR was significantly larger while BMI, waist and hip circumference were significantly smaller at almost all eleven semiannual visits among 942 HIV-infected compared to 266 HIV-uninfected women. Among HIV-uninfected women, mean waist and hip circumference and BMI increased over the 5 year study period (waist: +4.1 cm or 4.4%, hip: +3.76 cm or 3.5% and BMI +2.43 kg/m2 or 8.2%), while WHR remained stable. Among the HIV-infected women, waist and hip circumference, BMI and WHR did not significantly change.
Independent predictors of smaller BMI among HIV-infected women included White race, HCV seropositivity, current smoking, higher viral load and lower CD4. Independent predictors of larger WHR among HIV-infected women included age, White and Other non-African-American race, higher CD4 and PI use. Use of a HAART regimen was not an independent predictor of either BMI or WHR..
HIV-infected women had higher WHR compared to HIV-uninfected women, despite lower BMI, waist and hip measurements. BMI, waist and hip circumference increased over 5 years among the HIV-uninfected women, but remained stable in the HIV-infected women. Among HIV-infected women, PI use was associated with larger WHR, although HAART use itself was not appreciably associated with either BMI or WHR.
PMCID: PMC4406344  PMID: 18197125
anthropometrics; HIV; women; waist-to-hip ratio
8.  Changes in knowledge of cervical cancer following introduction of human papillomavirus vaccine among women at high risk for cervical cancer 
To describe changes in knowledge of cervical cancer prevention, human papillomavirus (HPV), and HPV vaccination among women at high risk for cervical cancer in the first five years after introduction of HPV vaccination.
In 2007, 2008–9, and 2011, women in a multicenter U.S. cohort study completed 44-item self-report questionnaires assessing knowledge of cervical cancer prevention, HPV, and HPV vaccination. Results across time were assessed for individuals, and three study enrollment cohorts were compared. Knowledge scores were correlated with demographic variables, measures of education and attention, and medical factors. Associations were assessed in multivariable models.
In all, 974 women completed three serial questionnaires; most were minority, low income, and current or former smokers. The group included 652 (67%) HIV infected and 322 (33%) uninfected. Summary knowledge scores (possible range 0–24) increased from 2007 (12.8, S.D. 5.8) to 2008–9 (13.9, S.D. 5.3, P < 0.001) and to 2011 (14.3, S.D. 5.2, P < 0.0001 vs 2007 and < 0.04 vs 2008–9). Higher knowledge scores at first and follow-up administration of questionnaires, higher income, and higher education level were associated with improved knowledge score at third administration. Women not previously surveyed had scores similar to those of the longitudinal group at baseline.
Substantial gaps in understanding of HPV and cervical cancer prevention exist despite years of health education. While more effective educational interventions may help, optimal cancer prevention may require opt-out vaccination programs that do not require nuanced understanding.
•Women at high risk for cervical cancer have substantial knowledge gaps about prevention.•Knowledge gaps improved after an intervention, but little additional improvement followed.•Poor and less educated women have lower knowledge scores despite higher cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC4392650  PMID: 25870859
Human papillomavirus; Cervical cancer prevention; Pap test; Health education; Human immunodeficiency virus in women
9.  Abuse and Resilience in Relation to HAART Medication Adherence and HIV Viral Load Among Women with HIV in the United States 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2014;28(3):136-143.
Abuse is highly prevalent among HIV+ women, leading to behaviors, including lower adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) that result in poor health outcomes. Resilience (functioning competently despite adversity) may buffer the negative effects of abuse. This study investigated how resilience interacted with abuse history in relation to HAART adherence, HIV viral load (VL), and CD4+ cell count among a convenience sample of 138 HIV+ women from the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center/Cook County Health and Hospital Systems site of the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). Resilience was measured by the 10-item Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). HAART adherence (≥95% vs. <95% self reported usage of prescribed medication) and current or prior sexual, physical, or emotional/domestic abuse, were reported during structured interviews. HIV viral load (≥20 vs. <20 copies/mL) and CD4+ count (200 vs. <200 cells/mm) were measured with blood specimens. Multiple logistic regressions, controlling for age, race, income, enrollment wave, substance use, and depressive symptoms, indicated that each unit increase in resilience was significantly associated with an increase in the odds of having ≥95% HAART adherence and a decrease in the odds of having a detectable viral load. Resilience-Abuse interactions showed that only among HIV+ women with sexual abuse or multiple abuses did resilience significantly relate to an increase in the odds of ≥95% HAART adherence. Interventions to improve coping strategies that promote resilience among HIV+ women may be beneficial for achieving higher HAART adherence and viral suppression.
PMCID: PMC3948478  PMID: 24568654
10.  Resilience among women with HIV: Impact of silencing the self and socioeconomic factors 
Sex roles  2014;70(5-6):221-231.
In the U.S., women account for over a quarter of the approximately 50,000 annual new HIV diagnoses and face intersecting and ubiquitous adversities including gender inequities, sexism, poverty, violence, and limited access to quality education and employment. Women are also subjected to prescribed gender roles such as silencing their needs in interpersonal relationships, which may lessen their ability to be resilient and function adaptively following adversity. Previous studies have often highlighted the struggles encountered by women with HIV without focusing on their strengths. The present cross-sectional study investigated the relationships of silencing the self and socioeconomic factors (education, employment, and income) with resilience in a sample of women with HIV. The sample consisted of 85 women with HIV, diverse ethnic/racial groups, aged 24 – 65 enrolled at the Chicago site of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study in the midwestern region of the United States. Measures included the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale -10 item and the Silencing the Self Scale (STSS). Participants showed high levels of resilience. Women with lower scores on the STSS (lower self-silencing) reported significantly higher resilience compared to women with higher STSS scores. Although employment significantly related to higher resilience, silencing the self tended to predict resilience over and above the contributions of employment, income, and education. Results suggest that intervention and prevention efforts aimed at decreasing silencing the self and increasing employment opportunities may improve resilience.
PMCID: PMC4051411  PMID: 24932061
resilience; silencing the self; HIV; women; socioeconomic factors
11.  The Vaginal Microbiota over an 8- to 10-Year Period in a Cohort of HIV-Infected and HIV-Uninfected Women 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0116894.
We identified predominant vaginal microbiota communities, changes over time, and how this varied by HIV status and other factors in a cohort of 64 women.
Bacterial DNA was extracted from reposited cervicovaginal lavage samples collected annually over an 8–10 year period from Chicago Women’s Interagency HIV Study participants: 22 HIV-negative, 22 HIV-positive with stable infection, 20 HIV-positive with progressive infection. The vaginal microbiota was defined by pyrosequencing of the V1/V2 region of the 16S rRNA gene. Scheduled visits included Bacterial vaginsosis (BV) screening; clinically detected cases were referred for treatment. Hierarchical clustering identified bacterial community state types (CST). Multinomial mixed effects modeling determined trends over time in CST, by HIV status and other factors.
The median follow-up time was 8.1 years (range 5.5–15.3). Six CSTs were identified. The mean relative abundance (RA) of Lactobacillus spp. by CST (with median number of bacterial taxa) was: CST-1–25.7% (10), CST-2–27.1% (11), CST-3–34.6% (9), CST-4–46.8% (9), CST-5–57.9% (4), CST-6–69.4% (2). The two CSTs representing the highest RA of Lactobacillus and lowest diversity increased with each additional year of follow-up (CST-5, adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.62 [95% CI: 1.34–1.94]; CST-6, aOR = 1.57 [95 CI: 1.31–1.89]), while the two CSTs representing lowest RA of Lactobacillus and higher diversity decreased with each additional year (CST-1, aOR = 0.89 [95% CI: 0.80–1.00]; CST-2, aOR = 0.86 [95% CI: 0.75–0.99]). There was no association between HIV status and CST at baseline or over time. CSTs representing lower RA of Lactobacillus were associated with current cigarette smoking.
The vaginal microbial community significantly improved over time in this cohort of women with HIV and at high risk for HIV who had regular detection and treatment referral for BV.
PMCID: PMC4326357  PMID: 25675346
12.  Gender Roles and Mental Health in Women With and at Risk for HIV 
Psychology of women quarterly  2014;38(3):311-326.
Predominantly low-income and African American women from the same community, HIV-infected (n = 100; HIV+) and uninfected (n = 42; HIV−), were assessed on reported gender roles in sexual and other close relationships—including levels of self-silencing, unmitigated communion, and sexual relationship power—at a single recent study visit during 2008–2012. Recent gender roles were investigated in relation to depressive symptoms and health-related quality of life assessed both at a single visit during 2008–2012 and averaged over semiannual visits (for depressive symptoms) and annual visits (for quality of life) occurring between 1994 and 2012. Compared to HIV− women, HIV+ women reported significantly higher levels of several aspects of self-silencing, unmitigated communion, and multi-year averaged depressive symptoms as well as lower levels of sexual relationship power and recent and multi-year averaged quality of life. For both HIV+ and HIV− women, higher self-silencing and unmitigated communion significantly related to recent or multi-year averaged higher depressive symptoms and lower quality of life. Intervention strategies designed to increase self-care and self-advocacy in the context of relationships could potentially minimize depressive symptoms and enhance quality of life in women with and at risk for HIV.
PMCID: PMC4258411  PMID: 25492991
sex roles; HIV; depression; quality of life; silencing the self; communion; health; empowerment
13.  Facilitators and Barriers to Discussing HIV Prevention with Adolescents: Perspectives of HIV-Infected Parents 
American journal of public health  2013;103(8):1468-1475.
We examined HIV-infected parents’ conversations about HIV prevention with their uninfected children, including what facilitated or hindered communication.
Parents with HIV/AIDS (n|=|90) who had children aged 10 to 18 years were recruited for a mixed method study from 2009 to 2010. Interviews assessed facilitators and barriers to discussing HIV prevention. A questionnaire identified the frequency and content of conversations, parental confidence level, and perceived importance of discussing preventive topics.
Eighty-one percent of parents reported “sometimes” or “often” communicating about HIV prevention. A subset of parents found these conversations difficult; 44% indicated their desire for support. Facilitators to communication included utilizing support, focusing on the benefits of talking, and having a previous relationship with one's child. Barriers to discussions included fear of negative consequences, living in denial, and lacking a parental role model who discussed safer sex. Parents varied as to how they believed their HIV status affected communication. Those who did not disclose their HIV status to their children reported less frequent communication; self-efficacy partially mediated this relationship.
Findings highlighted the need for communication skills training that support HIV-infected parents in their efforts to discuss HIV-related information with adolescents.
PMCID: PMC3908917  PMID: 23763390
14.  Concomitant anal and cervical human papillomavirusV infections and intraepithelial neoplasia in HIV-infected and uninfected women 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(11):1743-1751.
To assess factors associated with concomitant anal and cervical human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in HIV-infected and at-risk women.
A study nested within the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a multi-center longitudinal study of HIV-1 infection in women conducted in six centers within the United States.
Four hundred and seventy HIV-infected and 185 HIV-uninfected WIHS participants were interviewed and examined with anal and cervical cytology testing. Exfoliated cervical and anal specimens were assessed for HPV using PCR and type-specific HPV testing. Women with abnormal cytologic results had colposcopy or anoscopy-guided biopsy of visible lesions. Logistic regression analyses were performed and odds ratios (ORs) measured the association for concomitant anal and cervical HPV infection.
One hundred and sixty-three (42%) HIV-infected women had detectable anal and cervical HPV infection compared with 12 (8%) of the HIV-uninfected women (P <0.001). HIV-infected women were more likely to have the same human papillomavirus (HPV) genotype in the anus and cervix than HIV-uninfected women (18 vs. 3%, P <0.001). This was true for both oncogenic (9 vs. 2%, P = 0.003) and nononcogenic (12 vs. 1%, P <0.001) HPV types. In multivariable analysis, the strongest factor associated with both oncogenic and nononcogenic concomitant HPV infection was being HIV-infected (OR = 4.6 and OR = 16.9, respectively). In multivariable analysis of HIV-infected women, CD4+ cell count of less than 200 was the strongest factor associated with concomitant oncogenic (OR = 4.2) and nononcogenic (OR = 16.5) HPV infection.
HIV-infected women, particularly those women with low CD4+ cell counts, may be good candidates for HPV screening and monitoring for both cervical and anal disease
PMCID: PMC3917497  PMID: 23803793
anal intraepithelial neoplasia; cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; HIV-infection; human papillomavirus; women
15.  Free Glycogen in Vaginal Fluids Is Associated with Lactobacillus Colonization and Low Vaginal pH 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102467.
Lactobacillus dominates the lower genital tract microbiota of many women, producing a low vaginal pH, and is important for healthy pregnancy outcomes and protection against several sexually transmitted pathogens. Yet, factors that promote Lactobacillus remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that the amount of free glycogen in the lumen of the lower genital tract is an important determinant of Lactobacillus colonization and a low vaginal pH.
Free glycogen in lavage samples was quantified. Pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene was used to identify microbiota from 21 African American women collected over 8–11 years.
Free glycogen levels varied greatly between women and even in the same woman. Samples with the highest free glycogen had a corresponding median genital pH that was significantly lower (pH 4.4) than those with low glycogen (pH 5.8; p<0.001). The fraction of the microbiota consisting of Lactobacillus was highest in samples with high glycogen versus those with low glycogen (median = 0.97 vs. 0.05, p<0.001). In multivariable analysis, having 1 vs. 0 male sexual partner in the past 6 months was negatively associated, while BMI ≥30 was positively associated with glycogen. High concentrations of glycogen corresponded to higher levels of L. crispatus and L. jensenii, but not L. iners.
These findings show that free glycogen in genital fluid is associated with a genital microbiota dominated by Lactobacillus, suggesting glycogen is important for maintaining genital health. Treatments aimed at increasing genital free glycogen might impact Lactobacillus colonization.
PMCID: PMC4102502  PMID: 25033265
16.  Critical Consciousness, Racial and Gender Discrimination, and HIV Disease Markers in African American Women with HIV 
AIDS and behavior  2014;18(7):1237-1246.
Critical consciousness, the awareness of social oppression, is important to investigate as a buffer against HIV disease progression in HIV-infected African American women in the context of experiences with discrimination. Critical consciousness comprises several dimensions, including social group identification, discontent with distribution of social power, rejection of social system legitimacy, and a collective action orientation. The current study investigated self-reported critical consciousness as a moderator of perceived gender and racial discrimination on HIV viral load and CD4+ cell count in 67 African American HIV-infected women. Higher critical consciousness was found to be related to higher likelihood of having CD4+ counts over 350 and lower likelihood of detectable viral load when perceived racial discrimination was high, as revealed by multiple logistic regressions that controlled for highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) adherence. Multiple linear regressions showed that at higher levels of perceived gender and racial discrimination, women endorsing high critical consciousness had a larger positive difference between nadir CD4+ (lowest pre-HAART) and current CD4+ count than women endorsing low critical consciousness. These findings suggest that raising awareness of social oppression to promote joining with others to enact social change may be an important intervention strategy to improve HIV outcomes in African American HIV-infected women who report experiencing high levels of gender and racial discrimination.
PMCID: PMC4010552  PMID: 24077930
Critical consciousness; HIV; African American women; Protective factor; Perceived racial discrimination; Perceived gender discrimination
17.  Alcohol consumption trajectory patterns in adult women with HIV infection 
AIDS and behavior  2013;17(5):1705-1712.
HIV-infected women with excessive alcohol consumption are at risk for adverse health outcomes, but little is known about their long-term drinking trajectories. This analysis included longitudinal data, obtained from 1996–2006, from 2791 women with HIV from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. Among these women, the proportion in each of five distinct drinking trajectories was: continued heavy drinking (3%), reduction from heavy to non-heavy drinking (4%), increase from non-heavy to heavy drinking (8%), continued non-heavy drinking (36%), and continued non-drinking (49%). Depressive symptoms, other substance use (crack/cocaine, marijuana, and tobacco), co-infection with HCV, and heavy drinking prior to enrollment were associated with trajectories involving future heavy drinking. In conclusion, many women with HIV change their drinking patterns over time. Clinicians and those providing alcohol-related interventions might target those with depression, current use of tobacco or illicit drugs, HCV infection, or a previous history of drinking problems.
PMCID: PMC3534826  PMID: 22836592
Alcohol consumption; women; HIV-infection; trajectories
18.  Vitamin D and Insulin Resistance in Non-Diabetic Women's Interagency HIV Study Participants 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(6):320-325.
We explored the relationship between vitamin D levels and insulin resistance (IR) among 1082 nondiabetic (754 HIV-infected) women enrolled in the Women's Interagency HIV study (WIHS), a large and well-established cohort of HIV infected and uninfected women in the US. Vitamin D levels 20–29 ng/mL were considered insufficient and <20 ng/mL deficient. IR was estimated using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) and a clinically significant cut-off ≥2.6 was used for HOMA-IR. In the unadjusted analysis, women who were vitamin D insufficient or deficient were 1.62 (95% CI: 1.01–2.61, p=0.05) and 1.70 (95% CI: 1.11–2.60, p=0.02) times more likely to have HOMA values≥2.6 compared to women with sufficient vitamin D. The association did not remain significant after adjustment for factors associated with IR. Among the 754 HIV-infected women, current PI use (OR 1.61, 95% CI: 1.13–2.28, p=0.008) remained independently associated with HOMA ≥2.6 while vitamin D insufficiency (OR 1.80, 95% CI: 0.99–3.27, p=0.05) was marginally associated with HOMA ≥2.6 after adjustment. Ethnicity, body mass index, smoking status, and hepatitis C status were independently associated with insulin resistance in HIV-infected and uninfected women. We found a marginally significant association between vitamin D insufficiency and insulin resistance among nondiabetic HIV-infected WIHS women.
PMCID: PMC3671624  PMID: 23675750
19.  HIV and Recent Illicit Drug Use Interact to Affect Verbal Memory in Women 
HIV infection and illicit drug use are each associated with diminished cognitive performance. This study examined the separate and interactive effects of HIV and recent illicit drug use on verbal memory, processing speed and executive function in the multicenter Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS).
Participants included 952 HIV-infected and 443 HIV-uninfected women (mean age=42.8, 64% African-American). Outcome measures included the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test - Revised (HVLT-R) and the Stroop test. Three drug use groups were compared: recent illicit drug users (cocaine or heroin use in past 6 months, n=140), former users (lifetime cocaine or heroin use but not in past 6 months, n=651), and non-users (no lifetime use of cocaine or heroin, n=604).
The typical pattern of recent drug use was daily or weekly smoking of crack cocaine. HIV infection and recent illicit drug use were each associated with worse verbal learning and memory (p's<.05). Importantly, there was an interaction between HIV serostatus and recent illicit drug use such that recent illicit drug use (compared to non-use) negatively impacted verbal learning and memory only in HIV-infected women (p's <0.01). There was no interaction between HIV serostatus and illicit drug use on processing speed or executive function on the Stroop test.
The interaction between HIV serostatus and recent illicit drug use on verbal learning and memory suggests a potential synergistic neurotoxicity that may affect the neural circuitry underlying performance on these tasks.
PMCID: PMC3628722  PMID: 23392462
20.  Risk of exposure to HIV differs according to catechol-o-methyltransferase Val158Met genotype 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(11):1779-1782.
The Met allele of the catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism is associated with increased cortical dopamine and risk behaviors including illicit drug use and unprotected sex. Therefore, we examined whether or not the distribution of the Val158Met genotype differed between HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women. We conducted an Armitage-Cochran Test and logistic regression to compare genotype frequencies between 1,848 HIV-infected and 612 HIV-uninfected women from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). The likelihood of carrying one or two Met alleles was greater in HIV-infected women (61%) compared to HIV-uninfected women (54%), Z = −3.60, p < 0.001. We report the novel finding of an association between the Val158Met genotype and HIV serostatus that may be mediated through the impact of dopamine function on propensity for risk-taking.
PMCID: PMC3897122  PMID: 23807274
21.  The association between diet and physical activity on insulin resistance in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study 
To evaluate the association of diet and physical activity with insulin resistance (IR) in HIV-infected and uninfected women.
Cross sectional analyses of summary dietary measures and physical activity intensity scores obtained from women enrolled in the San Francisco (n=113) and Chicago (n=65) Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) sites. IR was estimated using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR). Stepwise regression models assessed the association of diet and physical activity with HOMA-IR after adjustment for demographic, behavioral, and clinical factors.
Compared to HIV-uninfected women, HIV-infected women were older and more likely to have health insurance. In multivariable analysis including all women, being from San Francisco (p=0.005), having a higher mean body mass index (BMI, p<0.001), and a higher percent kilocalories from sweets (p=0.025) were associated with greater HOMA-IR; heavy intensity physical activity (p=0.006) and annual household income <$36,000 (p=0.002) was associated with a lower HOMA-IR. In analysis limited to HIV-infected women, having a higher BMI (p<0.001) and a history of protease inhibitor use (0.002) were significantly associated with higher HOMA-IR; heavy intensity activity (p=0.06) was marginally associated with lower HOMA-IR and being menopausal (p=0.05) was marginally associated with higher HOMA-IR.
Among urban women with or at risk for HIV-infection, heavy intensity physical activity was associated with lower HOMA-IR while higher percent kilocalories from sweets were associated with higher HOMA-IR. Given the overall health benefits of physical activity and a diet low on sugar, these behaviors should be encouraged whenever possible.
PMCID: PMC3529765  PMID: 23075914
HIV; HOMA-IR; insulin resistance; macronutrients; physical activity; women
22.  Medicinal and recreational marijuana use among HIV-infected women in the Women’s Interagency HIV Cohort (WIHS), 1994–2010 
Despite the major benefits of effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) on HIV-related survival, there is an ongoing need to help alleviate medication side effects related to ART use. Initial studies suggest marijuana use may reduce HIV-related symptoms, but medical marijuana use among HIV-infected individuals has not been well described.
We evaluated trends in marijuana use and reported motivations for use among 2,776 HIV-infected women in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) between October 1994 and March 2010. Predictors of any and daily marijuana use were explored in multivariate logistic regression models clustered by person using GEE. In 2009 participants were asked if their marijuana use was medical, “meaning prescribed by a doctor”, or recreational, or both.
Over the sixteen years of this study the prevalence of current marijuana use decreased significantly from 21% to 14%. In contrast, daily marijuana use almost doubled from 3.3% to 6.1% of all women, and from 18% to 51% of current marijuana users. Relaxation, appetite improvement, reduction of HIV-related symptoms, and social use were reported as common reasons for marijuana use. In 2009, most marijuana users reported either purely medicinal use (26%) or both medicinal and recreational usage (29%). Daily marijuana use was associated with higher CD4 cell count, quality of life, and older age. Demographic characteristics and risk behaviors were associated with current marijuana use overall, but were not predictors of daily use.
This study suggests that both recreational and medicinal marijuana use are relatively common among HIV-infected women in this U.S.
PMCID: PMC3508315  PMID: 23011399
marijuana; cannabis; HIV; medicinal
23.  Trends in Contraceptive Use Among Women With Human Immunodeficiency Virus 
Obstetrics and gynecology  2012;120(4):783-790.
To estimate trends in contraceptive use, especially long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) and condoms, among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-seropositive and HIV-seronegative women.
HIV-seropositive and HIV-seronegative women in a multicenter longitudinal cohort were interviewed semiannually between 1998 and 2010 about sexual behaviors and contraceptive use. Trends in contraceptive use by women aged 18–45 years who were at risk for unintended pregnancy but not trying to conceive were analyzed using generalized estimating equations.
Condoms were the dominant form of contraception for HIV-seropositive women and showed little change across time. Fewer than 15% of these women used no contraception. Between 1998 and 2010, LARC use rose among HIV-seronegative women from 4.8% (6/126) to 13.5% (19/141, p=0.02), but not significantly among seropositive women (0.9% (4/438) to 2.8% (6/213, p = 0.09). Use of highly effective contraceptives, including pills, patches, rings, injectable progestin, implants and intrauterine devices, ranged from 15.2% (53/348) in 1998 to 17.4% (37/213) in 2010 (p = 0.55). HIV-seronegative but not seropositive LARC users were less likely than nonusers to use condoms consistently (HR=0.51, 95% C.I. 0.32–0.81, p = 0.004 for seronegative women; HR = 1.09, 95% C.I. 0.96, 1.23 for seropositive women).
Although most HIV-seropositive women use contraception, they rely primarily on condoms and have not experienced the increase in LARC use seen among seronegative women. Strategies to improve simultaneous use of condoms and LARC are needed to minimize risk of unintended pregnancy as well as HIV transmission and acquisition of sexually transmitted infections.
PMCID: PMC3449062  PMID: 22996095
24.  Correction: Computational Modeling Reveals Distinct Effects of HIV and History of Drug Use on Decision-Making Processes in Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):10.1371/annotation/5a8e6fe0-623c-4d17-8781-9a0eadf67a43.
PMCID: PMC3770829
25.  Correlating knowledge of cervical cancer prevention and human papillomavirus with compliance after colposcopy referral 
To assess the impact of knowledge of cervical cancer biology and prevention as well as noncognitive measures on compliance with colposcopy referral in a high risk population.
Participants in a U.S. cohort of women with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and at risk comparison women completed behavior questionnaires and instruments measuring knowledge of cervical cancer prevention, depressive symptoms, trust in doctors, and perceived stress. Examinations including Pap tests also were conducted. Associations with compliance with resulting indicated colposcopy were assessed in multivariable models.
Of 326 women with indicated colposcopy, 222 (68%) were compliant with colposcopy referral and 104 (32%) noncompliant. In multivariable analysis, better colposcopy compliance was associated with less education (O.R. for compliance 2.24, 95% C.I. 1.12–4.51 vs more than high school), prior abnormal Pap (O.R. per prior abnormal Pap 1.08 95% C.I. 1.01–1.15), study site (O.R. for site with best vs worst compliance 16.1, 95% C.I. 2.91–88.6), and higher stress (O.R. for Perceived Stress Scale-10 score >16 vs lower 3.25, 95% C.I. 1.45–7.26).
Noncognitive factors and how sites manage abnormal Pap testing affect colposcopy compliance. Educational interventions alone are unlikely to improve colposcopy compliance in similar high-risk populations.
PMCID: PMC3760241  PMID: 22227841
HPV; cervical cancer prevention; Pap test; health education; perceived stress; HIV in women

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