Patricia Molina, MD, PhD, Professor and Head of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has been awarded a grant in the amount of $390,532 over two years to test the effectiveness of physical exercise to improve the regulation of blood sugar levels in people living with HIV/AIDS who also use alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism awarded the competitive grant.
With advancement of anti-retroviral therapy, HIV infection has emerged as a chronic disease leading to an enhanced risk for other conditions, such as myopathy (muscle disorders), insulin resistance, and pre-diabetes. Risk factors for these conditions include hazardous alcohol consumption.
“Persons living with HIV are at higher risk for developing diabetes mellitus,” noted Dr. Molina, who is also the Director of the LSU Health New Orleans Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center of Excellence. “Chronic alcohol misuse further increases that risk. The studies will select persons at high risk for developing diabetes, and test an exercise program to improve health and decrease risk for diabetes. These studies are important because they will decrease the burden of disease in this vulnerable population."
The LSU Health New Orleans research team will conduct prospective studies to test the prediction that a higher proportion of HIV+ individuals with hazardous alcohol drinking will be found to have impaired oral glucose tolerance and dysfunctional metabolic skeletal muscle, and whether an aerobic exercise regimen can improve their glycemic control.
“Results will be used to guide larger scale interventions to reduce concurrent metabolic disorders, improve health, quality of life, and possibly decrease hazardous alcohol drinking,” Molina concluded.
Chronic alcohol consumption is the most common and costly form of substance abuse in the United States, and is highly prevalent in persons living with HIV/AIDS.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, the South accounted for 52% of the new AIDS diagnoses in the United States and 53% of the deaths in 2014. Overall, an American has a one in 99 chance of being diagnosed with HIV at some point in his or her life. In Louisiana in 2016, that risk was one in 56.