Study to explore links between oral, mental health in women with HIV

Woman Depression

A study to be conducted by researchers from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the University of Miami in Florida, and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill will explore connections between oral and mental health in women with HIV.

The rates of depression and anxiety tend to be higher in women living with HIV. This element, combined with the stress of managing the disease, can prevent women from seeking preventive dental care, thus increasing the incidence of problems, such as decreased salivary flow caused by antiretroviral therapy, Dr. Carrigan Parish, PhD, an assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia, said in a statement released by the university.

Parish and colleagues plan to conduct the CROWN (Comprehensive Research on Oral and Mental Health among Women) study, which will be funded by a $2.1 million, five-year grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. CROWN will examine how overall health and quality of life can be improved for the 300,000 women living with HIV in the U.S.

The study will recruit 400 women and will incorporate data from two prior research efforts: STAR (Study of Treatment and Reproductive outcomes) and MWCCS (a combination of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study and the Women’s Interagency HIV Study). The participants will undergo dental assessments (periodontal health, plaque, and cavities) and respond to questionnaires regarding their mental and behavioral health. Study participants will receive follow-up assessments one year after the study begins.

"We expect the results of our research will not only provide a foundation for programs targeting oral and mental health care but shine a light on the many health disparities facing women living with HIV," additional study principal investigator Deborah Jones Weiss, PhD, of Miami Miller School said in the Columbia statement.

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