Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Human immunodeficiency virus, antiretroviral drugs and multiple sclerosis risk (HIV-MS)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Helen Tremlett

Affiliation: The University of British Columbia

Year awarded: 2018-2019

Amount Awarded: $299,979

Keywords: HIV, retrovirus, health data, HIV drugs

Summary:

  • Early evidence is looking at human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) association with lowering risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Whether HIV is truly associated with lower risk by its ability to weaken the immune system or through drug therapies for HIV is unknown.
  • The research team will:
    • Use health data from large groups of people to assess the risk of developing MS in people with HIV to that of the general population.
    • Compare the occurrence of MS between individuals treated with HIV drugs to those that are not treated.

Project Description:

Viruses that have been studied for their relationship with MS include Epstein-Barr virus, human herpes virus 6 and a group of viruses called retroviruses. However, no virus has yet been identified as a direct cause of MS, and there is very little understanding of how viruses might change the risk of MS, or how drugs that target these viruses might potentially influence the risk of MS. One of the most highly studied retroviruses that infect people is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There is limited evidence suggesting that the HIV virus is associated with a lower risk of MS. The goal of Dr. Helen Tremlett’s study is to assess whether infection with HIV or exposure to drugs that are used to treat HIV have the potential to change the risk of developing MS. Using health-related data, the research team will assess the risk of developing MS in people living with HIV and compare the risk to that of men and women in the general population, of a similar age and country of birth, that are not known to have HIV. The study will provide valuable knowledge about the role of retroviruses, such as HIV, and the drug therapies used to treat HIV, on the risk of developing MS.

Potential Impact: Provide knowledge of HIV and HIV treatments on the risk of developing MS and contribute considerably to an understanding of how MS is triggered.

Project Status: In Progress