Friends of NIDA Coalition Presents Educational Briefing on HIV and Drug Use
By Robert Booth
Robert Booth, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine, describes Project Safe, a NIDA-funded HIV prevention project he has been directing since 1987.
Behaviors associated with drug use have been shown to be among some of the most prominent and robust predictors of HIV transmission in the United States. In fact, injection drug use has directly and indirectly accounted for more than one-third (36 percent) of AIDS cases in the United States. Drug use also affects judgment about sexual risks and thereby increases the likelihood of transmitting or acquiring HIV through unprotected sex. But evidence suggests that drug abuse treatment can help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially when combined with prevention and community-based outreach programs for at-risk individuals. Because these efforts can reduce or eliminate drug use and drug-related HIV risk behaviors, the Friends of NIDA hosted an educational briefing on Capitol Hill on October 25 to raise awareness about the relationship between drug use and HIV infection.
The briefing, entitled "Drug Use and HIV/AIDS: Breaking the Cycle of Infection," was organized by APA Science Policy staffers Sara Robinson and Geoff Mumford. It was the third in a series this year designed to elevate NIDA's profile with policy-makers. As with the other events, APA coordinated with the Chairs of the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus to find space and drum up support for the briefing, which was co-sponsored by 18 other organizations. NIDA Director Nora Volkow provided a spirited overview of NIDA's HIV/AIDS research portfolio, noting, among other issues, the alarming change in patterns of transmission disproportionately affecting African American women. Psychologist Robert Booth, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, described his experiences as an HIV prevention researcher leading the community-based SAFE program in Denver. Finally, Ms. Patricia Nalls, Founder and Executive Director of a DC-based nonprofit organization, The Women's Collective, provided her personal perspective as an HIV-positive woman helping other women deal with HIV-related issues.