Researcher Studies HIV and Bone Health

By 2015, 50 percent of people living with HIV in the United States will be 50 years old or older according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  This is a statistic HIV researcher Roger Bedimo, MD, MS, keeps in mind as he contributes to the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) Network’s A5322 study investigating HIV, aging and inflammation.

“It’s a study whose time had come,” says Bedimo, who is the Clinical Research Site (CRS) Leader at the ACTG’s Trinity Health and Wellness Center site in Dallas, Texas.

Bedimo grew up in Cameroon and knew at an early age he wanted to specialize in treating infectious diseases. At first he was interested in researching malaria. As he grew older, he noticed HIV was becoming much more prevalent in Cameroon. He then completed an infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Alabama Birmingham. This experience led him to pursue a career as an HIV specialist.

The Dallas ACTG site opened in 2007 and Bedimo became its CRS Leader in 2011. He says the population most affected by HIV in the Dallas area are young, minority men who have sex with men. Bedimo’s research specialties include the chronic complications a person living with HIV may suffer from such as malignancies, bone disease or cardiovascular disease. He is also interested in the effects of the HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection on the body.

“People with HIV and HCV are prone to fractures,” he says. “I am chairing a study investigating whether treating HCV would improve bone health in people living with the HIV-HCV co-infection.”

Pablo Tebas, MD, is the CRS Leader at the ACTG’s Penn Therapeutics Clinical Research Site in Philadelphia. He is working with Bedimo on the HCV bone health study.

“Working with Roger is always fun,” says Tebas. “You know that you are in for a treat, that you are going to be back and forth frequently discussing the ins and outs of the study.”

When looking toward the future of HIV research, Bedimo hopes the ACTG focuses on studies exploring antiretroviral therapy and aging. As the AIDS epidemic marks 30 years, many people living with HIV have been taking anti-HIV medications for 10 years or longer. Bedimo thinks understanding the long-term effects of being on ART are critical, especially as people age and face additional ailments. He would also like to see the Network investigate whether an individualized treatment regimen by age would be beneficial.

“People living with HIV in their 30s may have different tolerability than people in their 60s,” Bedimo says. “As we age, we are at greater risk for developing other complications including cardiovascular disease. These different factors linked to aging need to be taken into account when prescribing antiretroviral therapy.”

When he is not busy running the Dallas ACTG site, Bedimo unwinds by listening to classical music. He is an avid soccer fan and tried to catch a few of the World Cup games on television this summer. Bedimo returns to Cameroon every other year and hopes to eventually conduct research in his native country.