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Release Date: 02/24/2014

Women’s infectious disease needs are often unique, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women may be more susceptible to certain infections and can suffer more severe complications. Biology, as well as social and cultural factors, plays a role in this disparity. Conditions such as diabetes, obesity and pregnancy can put a woman at greater risk for infectious disease.

With this in mind, Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island has introduced one of the nation’s only Women’s Infectious Disease Consult Service, a collaborative service of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Department of Medicine, and the hospital’s Integrated Program for High-Risk Pregnancy.

The service is led by Director Brenna Hughes, MD, MSc, of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and Associate Director Erica Hardy, MD, MMSc, of the Division of Obstetric and Consultative Medicine.

“Our goal is to collaborate with providers throughout Southern New England to serve women with infectious diseases,” said Dr. Hughes. “This highly specialized consultative service is designed to be able to provide both one-time consultations for treatment recommendations and ongoing care for complicated infections.

“We have broad expertise in infectious disease issues in women, both during pregnancy and in the non-pregnant patient, and can provide specialty consultation for a wide range of infectious disease issues, including but not limited to complex sexually transmitted diseases, infectious diseases in the setting of pregnancy, preconception counseling, pre or post exposure prophylaxis against HIV and other infections, as well as infections in the surgical or immunocompromised oncology patient,” said Dr. Hardy.

The Infectious Disease Consult Service provides inpatient consultation to all providers at Women & Infants Hospital in obstetrics and gynecology and their respective subspecialties, as well as outpatient consultations to referring providers throughout Southern New England in such areas as obstetrics, gynecology, oncology, urogynecology, primary care, adolescent medicine, emergency medicine, and specialty medicine.

Board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine, Dr. Brenna Hughes is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She is currently conducting clinical research studies funded by the NIH on prevention of congenital cytomegalovirus and understanding the mechanisms of HIV infection during pregnancy, as well as on prevention of infectious complications related to labor and delivery.

Dr. Hughes was named a Castle Connolly Best Doctors in America and has been a U.S. News Top Doctor since 2011. She regularly serves as a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and serves on national committees for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM). She is the author of more than 40 articles and book chapters.

Dr. Erica Hardy is board certified in internal medicine, pediatrics and infectious diseases, and is an assistant professor at the Alpert Medical School. Her research and clinical interests include infectious disease issues in obstetric and gynecologic patients, including congenital infection and complicated sexually transmitted infections, as well as outcomes, post-exposure prophylaxis, and follow-up care of sexual assault survivors.

Dr. Hardy was recently awarded Center for AIDS Research grant funding to explore the female genital mucosal characteristics with respect to cytokines, anti-HIV activity, and antimicrobials in adult women survivors of sexual violence. The results of this project with help determine the immunological and other biomedical effects of sexual violence on HIV transmission risk and will inform future studies on the pathogenesis of HIV transmission in the setting of sexual violence.

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About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 9th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
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