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Fellowships for outstanding research in drug use and HIV awarded by IAS and NIDA

Wednesday July 13, 2011 (Geneva, Switzerland) -- The International AIDS Society (IAS) and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) today announced the recipients of their third annual joint research fellowships. Recipients of the prestigious awards will receive US$75,000 each to advance scientific understanding of the linkages between drug use and HIV while fostering multinational research.

Young researchers from China and Indonesia will be awarded post-doctoral fellowships to pursue outstanding research in the field. (1) IAS/NIDA research fellowships are awarded to junior scientists for 18 months for post-doctoral training and to well-established HIV researchers for eight months of professional development, both at institutes excelling in research on drug use and HIV.

Presentation of the IAS/NIDA fellowships will take place in a fortnight on Wednesday 20 July 2011 at the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Italy.

The fellowships ceremony will take place immediately before the Plenary Session (08:45-11:00) where NIDA Director Dr Nora D Volkow will give a keynote presentation Ending HIV Transmission Among Drug Users by 2015.

"The innovative research projects that will be implemented by these talented scientists in different disciplines clinical science, law and public health cover multiple areas of research needed to improve strategies targeting HIV infections related to drug use," said IAS President Dr Elly Katabira.

Drug use is a global problem that brings with it greatly increased risk for HIV infection. Approximately three million of the estimated 15.9 million people aged 15 to 64 who injected drugs in 2008 are living with HIV. A total of 120 countries have reported cases of HIV among people who inject drugs. Injecting drug use represents one of the predominant modes of transmission of HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs is higher than 40 per cent in some countries. Use of other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, even without injection, is also associated with increased HIV risk behaviours.

"If you don't treat drug dependency, the likelihood of an individual being infected by HIV becomes higher. We need to treat drug users if we want to treat HIV," said Dr Volkow. "In fact, preventing and treating drug use is treating HIV."

Drug-related HIV/AIDS epidemics have followed the spread of cocaine injecting in Latin America and heroin injecting in Asia in the 1980s and the massive spread of injecting heroin and other opiates in Eastern Europe in the 1990s.

Overall growth in numbers of new HIV infections has slowed in most regions of the world. One exception to this trend, however, is the continued growth in numbers of HIV infections linked to injecting drug use, especially in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and more recently, sub-Saharan Africa.


Contact: Lindsey Rodger
International AIDS Society

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