Rhode Island physician honored nationally for establishing first HIV menopause clinic
Providence, RI – Susan Cu-Uvin, MD, a physician at The Miriam Hospital and associate professor at Brown Medical School, received national recognition today by the Ladies' Home Journal for establishing the nation's first known HIV Menopause Clinic designed to understand the compounded effects of menopause on women with HIV.
Cu-Uvin received the first annual Health Breakthrough Award presented by Ladies' Home Journal in New York City on August 2. The award is presented to medical professionals whose research and work has significantly helped women and families. Cu-Uvin is one of seven physicians and researchers who received the award – fellow honorees hail from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, University of North Carolina, and Harvard Medical School. Honorees will also be profiled in the September issue of Ladies' Home Journal, available on newsstands on August 8.
Hot flashes, depression, and brittle bones are all symptoms that have been linked to menopause, but they're also common to HIV-positive individuals on antiretroviral medication. Antiretroviral combination therapy has been successful at significantly extending the lives of those with HIV, including women who are now living long enough to experience the natural progression of menopause. Often overlooked as the lesser concern of medical issues in those with HIV, physicians face unknown territory with little information available on how to treat menopausal symptoms in HIV-positive women.
Cu-Uvin established the HIV Menopause clinic at The Miriam Hospital to help HIV-positive women through menopause, but also to gather data about how the two conditions interact and potentially aggravate HIV-related conditions such as cardiac risks, bone loss and depression. Cu-Uvin and her staff hope to gain insight into several unanswered questions including whether menopause and HIV work together to hasten bone loss, if menopause occurs earlier/later in HIV-positive women, and if HIV-positive menopausal women place their partners at a higher risk for HIV infection through sexual contact. Determining the effect hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has on HIV-positive women also remains to be seen.
Cu-Uvin has spent most of her medical career caring for people with HIV, particularly women. For the past 10 years, her research has been focused on how HIV is shed in the genital tract of women – an issue critical to understanding how the virus is spread through sexual contact and childbirth. Cu-Uvin treats virtually all the pregnant women with HIV in Rhode Island, and in the past five years, only one of her patients has transmitted HIV to her baby during childbirth.
Cu-Uvin is active internationally, training physicians and researchers on HIV diagnosis, treatment and prevention in India, Cambodia and the Philippines. She helped establish an HIV Women's Clinic in Cambodia where she teaches medical workers treatment options, but also how to apply for grants and conduct research studies relevant to women with HIV.
The Miriam Hospital (www.miriamhospital.org) is a not-for-profit hospital affiliated with Brown Medical School and a founding member of the Lifespan health system. Founded in 1926 by the Miriam Hospital Women's Association, The Miriam offers particular expertise in cardiology; oncology; and HIV/AIDS treatment, research and prevention. Nationally recognized as a top hospital in cardiovascular care, The Miriam is home to the only Women's Cardiac Center in the region, the only JCAHO certified Primary Stroke Center in the state, and performs the highest volume of coronary bypass surgeries in the state. The Miriam Hospital has been awarded Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services three times and is committed to excellence in patient care, research and medical education.
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