Dr. Paul Fidel, the Carl Baldridge Professor and Associate Dean for Research at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans' School of Dentistry, is the lead principal investigator of a $2.76 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research over five years to study how HIV and antiretroviral therapy may change communities of bacteria in the mouth and what effects those changes may have on oral infections in HIV disease.
"We think HIV and antiretroviral therapy affect the oral bacterial communities and these influences may be important to the occurrence of several oral manifestations of HIV disease including oral candidiasis, or thrush, oral warts, and oral cancer, as well as periodontal disease and cavities," notes Dr. Fidel.
Dr. Fidel will lead a research team including co-principal investigators Dr. Michael Hagensee, Professor of Medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, Drs. Ann Griffen and Gene Leys at Ohio State University, with collaboration from Georgia Regents University.
The study will include people who are HIV-positive, HIV-negative, HIV-positive people on antiretroviral therapy, as well as people with oral thrush and human papillomavirus, or HPV-related oral cancer.
Oral thrush can be painful, can make it hard to swallow leading to problems eating, and can affect nutrition absorption if it spreads to the intestine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of oral thrush among AIDS patients is estimated to be between 9% and 31%, and studies have documented clinical evidence of oral candidiasis in nearly 20% of cancer patients. It is estimated that more than 2,370 new cases of HPV-associated oral cancers are diagnosed in women and nearly 9,356 are diagnosed in men each year in the United States.