The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) / Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) Combined Cohort Study (MACS/WIHS-CSS) is a collaborative research effort that aims to understand and reduce the impact of chronic health conditions—including heart, lung, blood, and sleep (HLBS) disorders—that affect people living with HIV.
For decades, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has supported the separate MACS and WIHS cohort studies. MACS was a study of gay and bisexual men, while WIHS was a study of women who had other risk factors for HIV.
In 2019, the NHLBI became the primary steward of the new MACS/WIHS-CSS. For this effort, the NHLBI is working in close collaboration with the NIH Office of AIDS Research (OAR) as well as several co-funding institutes across the NIH.
Today, people living with HIV are more likely to develop chronic diseases than AIDS-related diseases. They have an increased risk of developing mental health and neurologic illnesses, diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases such as pulmonary hypertension and COPD, sleep disorders, anemias and other blood-related disorders, as well as some cancers. These conditions will be a sustained focus of the Combined Cohort Study. The program aims to make these research advances:
Investigators from the previously separate MACS and WIHS studies have made groundbreaking discoveries in the field of HIV research, including how best to diagnose and manage HIV; the link between low immune cell counts and AIDS; and genetic, metabolic, and other factors that influence how HIV infection may progress to the active diseases of AIDS. Dedicated individuals who are living with and without HIV have been critical to these life-saving discoveries, and their continued participation, as part of the Combined Cohort Study, is central to further HIV research.
The Combined Cohort Study aims to spur new scientific discoveries by sharing data and biospecimens from the MACS and WIHS research groups. The NHLBI encourages early career investigators to use these resources for innovative research ideas and to generate preliminary data for large grant applications. Learn more about HIV/AIDS-related research applications.
The Combined Cohort Study complements ongoing research efforts supported by the broader NHLBI HIV/AIDS Program. The program provides global leadership for research, training, and education activities that specifically promote studies about HIV-related heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, as well as blood-based therapies.
Researchers can request access to data and biospecimens through the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study Data Analysis and Coordinating Center (DACC). Biospecimens available include serum, plasma, cells, and urine. These biospecimens come from men and women in the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study, as well as from past participants of the separate MACS and WIHS studies.
Researchers can submit a concept sheet to the Combined Cohort Study Executive Committee. Once the committee reviews and approves the concept sheet, the DACC helps coordinate the delivery of datasets and biospecimens to the researcher and may provide analytic support.
Since 1984, more than 12,000 people have participated in MACS and WIHS. The MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study will build upon the information gathered from these participants while redirecting research to investigate co-existing medical conditions that often affect people living with HIV today. The Combined Cohort Study includes continuing participants from the earlier studies. Researchers will also recruit new participants with a special focus on hard-hit population groups, such as black and Hispanic men and women and residents of southern states.
Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS)
MACS started in 1984 and enrolled over 7,000 men who were living with and without HIV at study centers located in Baltimore, Md., Chicago, Ill., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Los Angeles, Ca. Every six months, participants answered questions about their health and social behaviors; provided blood samples; received a physical exam and cognitive function evaluation; among other tests. Some of the scientific accomplishments of this landmark study include:
Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS)
WIHS started in 1993 and has enrolled almost 5,000 women who were living with and without HIV at clinical centers in Atlanta, Ga.; Birmingham, Ala.; Brooklyn, NY; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Jackson, Miss.; Miami, Fla.; New York, N.Y.; Chicago, Ill.; Los Angeles, Ca.; San Francisco, Ca.; and Washington, D.C. This study was designed to look at the progression of HIV disease in women. A follow-up visit every six months included, but was not limited to, questions on medical history, alcohol and drug use, and sexual behaviors. They also had a physical exam and provided blood, cervical, and urine samples. Some of the scientific accomplishments of WIHS include:
Tremendous progress in the treatment of HIV has led to increased survival and a dramatic evolution of the disease’s course in patients.
Researchers have begun enrolling participants in a multicenter international clinical trial to test whether statin administration can reduce the risk for major adverse cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease, in people with HIV infection. The trial is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart,...