The Mount Sinai Summer Institute for NeuroAIDS Disparities

NeuroAIDS Disparities

Racial and ethnic minorities (REM) are a disproportionate majority of those infected by HIV in the USA [see statistics]. There is need for capacity in medical science to study HIV-associated disorders in REM populations, to understand disease manifestations and whether pathogenesis is influenced by qualities or conditions associated with race and ethnicity.

Highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) has not eradicated HIV-associated nervous system disorders. As life spans of people on HAART increase, the prevalence of HIV-related nervous system diseases is rising. The chronicity of these disorders, and their unique impact on functional ability, renders HIV neurobiology an important area of study. It is imperative that we understand the manifestations and pathogenesis of HIV-associated nervous system disorders in REM communities, as this is where the burden of disease is greatest in the 21st century.

How might race and ethnicity be pertinent to HIV-associated nervous system disorders?

  • A primary output of psychiatric, neurologic, and cognitive disorders is alteration in behavior, thus, socio-cultural modifications of behavior must be accounted for in defining disease entities and measures for their discovery.
  • Host responses to HIV (and more broadly, host immunologic reactivities) show genetically-determined variability, thus, race and ethnicity may play a role in nervous system immune perturbation.
  • Co-morbid conditions that segregate along racial and ethnic boundaries may modulate CNS disease manifestations and/or progression.

These aspects of neuroAIDS disorders, and many others related to them, can be conceptualized in the framework below.

Disparities Diagram

MSINAD's goal is to stimulate and enable young scientists to pursue neuroAIDS research relevant to REM communities. It will do this by offering a summer training program to generate and enhance scientific competencies; to foster appropriate pathways of career development; and to support pilot initiatives through a small grant program.