Messages from the NIDA HRP Team

We welcome those interested in NIDA’s HIV research. Watch this space for messages from the HRP scientific leadership team on interesting new findings in the field as well as funding opportunities from NIDA.

August 2023

  • August 14, 2023: - Please join the NIDA HIV Research Program (HRP) for more thought-provoking events coming this fall. First, on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, we are holding a symposium led by recipients of Avenir Award Program (DP2) grants (PAR-23-125). Topics include the effects of opioids on HIV persistence across tissues, rethinking how we collect information to reduce overdose deaths, HIV and substance use comorbidity, developing IFN-modulated vaccines and vulnerabilities of HIV-1 escape from neutralizing antibodies. Get more detailed information and the Avenir speaker’s listRegistration is now open
    Then, on Wednesday, October 25 at 11:00 a.m. EST we continue our NIDA HIV Seminar Series with the presentation “Long-Acting ART for Vulnerable Populations: Practical Considerations” with speakers Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH, and Katerina Christopoulos, MD, MPH, both from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Register for the seminar

July 2023

May 2023

April 2023

  • April 3, 2023: - It's spring, which at HRP mean our thoughts turn to those of you preparing proposals for NIDA’s HIV Avant-Garde and Avenir Awards. These funding opportunities target exceptionally creative investigators planning high impact research projects that will open new areas of HIV/AIDS research relevant to substance use disorders (SUD) and can lead to novel avenues of research for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among people who use drugs. The NIDA Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV/AIDS and Substance Use Disorder Research is for researchers at all levels and the Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Use Disorders and HIV/AIDS focuses on early stage investigators. To hear from past Avant-Garde Awardees, see our symposiums from 2021 and 2022. Early stage investigators will enjoy the Avenir symposiums from 2021 and 2022. Avenir means future in French, and our Avenir applicants represent the future of science at the intersection of HIV and substance use disorders. Proposals should include highly innovative ideas that address NIH HIV/AIDS Research Priorities. Applications responding to both of these funding opportunities must clearly describe how their proposed projects explore the science that links substance use disorders with HIV/AIDS.

February 2023

  • February 2, 2023: Mark your calendars for Wednesday April 26th,  1-2 pm ET for this unique opportunity to interact with a NIDA Avant-Garde Awardee (2009) and  leading researcher at the intersection of HIV and substance use! We are pleased to announce the next presentation in the HRP Seminar Series: A vicious cycle: The impact of inflammation and substance use on the control of HIV latency in microglia by Dr. Jonathan Karn, Reinberger Professor & Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology & Microbiology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Karn has been studying transcriptional control in HIV since the mid-1980s. His current research focuses on the impact of substance use on the regulation of HIV transcription and latency in microglial cells.

January 2023

  • January 20, 2023: Outside In and Inside Out! Our Seminar Series continues. We are pleased to invite you to our next installment on January 25, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Adam Carrico, Ph.D., a clinical-health psychologist with expertise in the interdisciplinary field of psychoneuroimmunology at the University of Miami, will present "Outside In and Inside Out: Neuroimmune Mechanisms Linking Stimulant Use and HIV". Dr. Carrico will explore how to delineate the bi-directional neuroimmune pathways linking co-occurring stimulant use and HIV. This is a unique chance to personally interact with Dr. Carrico about his exciting research.

December 2022

  • December 28, 2022: Happy New Year to all from the NIDA HIV Research Program (HRP)! In 2023, we are looking forward to an exciting year of research at the intersection of HIV and substance use disorder (SUD). Our New  Year’s resolution is to match the most talented scientists with our most important research needs. We also plan to offer funding opportunities that fill some much-needed research gaps, including education about and access to PrEP, as well as improved and more targeted clinical care and testing. 

    We encourage you to review our funding opportunities web pages, and want to highlight a few opportunities of special interest to the NIDA HRP team for 2023.  First, we are anticipating some exciting grant applications for our Racial Equity Initiative---four new HIV-related funding opportunities designed to promote racial equity in NIDA’s research portfolio. Second, we are especially enthusiastic about some funding opportunities (NOFOs) in basic science related to how HIV and SUDs interact at the cellular level; some examples listed below:

    • We want to encourage investigation into the roles of extracellular RNA (exRNA) carrier subclasses in biological processes relevant to substance use disorders and/or HIV infection, latency, or pathogenesis in the central nervous system. Applicants may propose to investigate biological mechanisms involving exRNA carrier subclasses, or they may propose to develop improved technologies to investigate extracellular vesicles or other exRNA carriers.
    • We are offering funding opportunities to explore mechanisms of inflammasome activation, humoral immune reaction and potential antibody-mediated enhancement, and their link to immune functions in people with HIV and SUDs.  The goal of these funding opportunities is to either elucidate the mechanisms of inflammasomes in virus and drug-induced immune activation or to identify molecular markers and central nervous system immune cells associated with HIV-1 infection or disease progression among individuals with SUD.
    • We hope you will review our funding opportunities  for exploratory studies to investigate mechanisms of HIV infection, replication, latency, and/or pathogenesis in the context of substance use disorders. This initiative focuses on exploration and characterization of signaling pathways that are involved in central nervous system (CNS) HIV establishment and expansion. This funding opportunity aims to promote research to investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms by which HIV infection is initiated, established, and maintained in the CNS and to determine how addictive substances modulate HIV infection, latency, and the size and persistence of CNS HIV reservoirs.

    Finally, it would not be a new year without a new round of innovative applications for our Avenir and Avant-Garde Awards. To those still early in their scientific careers, take note: The NIDA Avenir Awards for HIV/AIDS Research (DP2)  are designed to stimulate innovation and potentially transformative research from early stage investigators. For all researchers, The Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV/AIDS and Substance Use Disorder Research (DP1) supports individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose high-impact research that will open new areas of HIV/AIDS research among people who use drugs. 

    Note that in 2023 we might see a simplified evaluation criteria for grant application evaluation  for research project grants, such as R01s, R03s, R15s, R21s, and R34s. The new criteria would reduce the current five scored criteria—Significance, Investigators, Innovation, Approach, and Environment—to three factors: Importance of Research, Rigor and Feasibility, and Expertise and Resources.  NIH is seeking feedback on the proposal; you can read more about it in a Research Matters Post

    Finally, we are pleased to tell you that NIDA will continue its new Seminar Series in 2023, starting with a presentation January 25th (1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. EST) titled Outside In and Inside Out: Neuroimmune Mechanisms Linking Stimulant Use and HIV, led by Adam W. Carrico, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist with expertise in the interdisciplinary field of psychoneuroimmunology. Dr. Carrico will review a variety of findings related to the connection between stimulant use and HIV, including findings from the NIDA-funded RADAR cohort. 

    For ongoing information on some of the most interesting findings from NIDA-funded research, as well as new funding opportunities. please sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter, HIV News from NIDA

    To answer your questions and enable your research needs, our program contacts are always available.  Happy New Research in 2023!

  • December 1, 2022: To those of us seeking to advance research at the intersection of HIV and substance use, World AIDS Day is a time to reflect on our program’s efforts of the past year use, and to look ahead at the robust science we expect in the new year. To learn more about the accomplishments of the NIDA HIV Research program since its inception in 2004, check out our newly updated historical timelines. For World AIDS Day 2022, we are pleased to introduce a new blog posted by NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, as well as two new educational videos , “Meth, Sex and HIV” and “Trust, Stigma and Patient Care.” 

    Despite the lagging COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 has been a year filled with important science for NIDA’s HRP. In April, for example, a NIDA-funded modeling team concluded that unstable housing will contribute globally to nearly eight percent of new HIV transmissions among people who inject drugs. In May, the HRP newsletter reported research findings on the impact of COVID 19--- suggesting that temporary interruption and permanent closure of syringe services programs in rural communities can lead to HIV outbreaks. We also saw research that suggests that the genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 transcriptional activation screen is an effective tool for identifying host factors that limit HIV replication. Another study of great interest: HIV medication services can promote engagement in opioid agonist treatment.  

    This year, NIDA’s HRP also started a new seminar series offering interested scientists and clinicians access to some of the most exciting HIV science supported by NIDA. Our first seminar, in October, featured infectious disease economic modeler Dr. Natasha Martin, who gave a terrific presentation on modeling population drivers of the syndemics of injection drug use, as well as the importance of modeling structural interventions, looking at her team’s work in Tijuana, Mexico. See the video recording.  This year NIDA also relaunched its HIV Working Group, offering scientists across NIDA and NIH a formal, ongoing framework to discuss initiatives and collaborations. In addition, we are now offering four new funding opportunities linked to NIDA’s Racial Equity initiative, hoping to start the new year with innovative new research promoting meaningful equity in HIV prevention and treatment.  

    This past year we were also impressed with the applications for our Avenir and Avant-Garde Awards, and recommend all interested researchers, including early stage career investigators, to check the HIV Research Program website for ongoing funding opportunities. On a final note, may we emphasize that NIDA is grateful and proud to be part of the many scientific efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the United States and around the world, and we continue to fight for those who struggle with HIV and AIDS, standing in awe of our many scientific partners. 

    From the HRP Scientific Leadership Team: 
    Dr. Redonna Chandler, Director  
    Dr. Varthakavi Vasundhara, Associate Director

September 2022

  • September 26, 2022: The 2022 Avenir Award Symposium recording is now online! NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D. opened the symposium, noting that the purpose of the award is to stimulate innovation in research at the intersection of HIV and substance use. We enjoyed hearing from some of our awardees--- distinguished early-stage investigators--- who shared information about their groundbreaking studies supported by NIDA.
  • September 9, 2022: The NIDA HIV Research Program is committed to promoting science-based information at the intersection of HIV and substance use disorders. You might enjoy the latest blog from NIDA Director Nora Volkow on Five Areas Where “More Research” Isn’t Needed to Curb the Overdose Crisis which discusses well established evidence that should be put into action, including the importance of syringe services programs.

August 2022

  • August 23, 2022: The NIDA HIV Research Program has opened registration for our September Symposium on the Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Use Disorders and HIV/AIDS, a rare opportunity to interact with some of the most innovative early stage investigators at the intersection of HIV and substance use. The webinar is September 7, 2022 from 1:00-4:00 PM ET. Register here
  • August 11, 2022: Important for grant applicants: There is a change in the receipt date for grant applications due between Sept 23 and Sept 30, 2022. The new receipt date will be October 3, 2022 to accommodate the migration to cloud. The official notice also contains information on continuous submission and AIDS applications due dates.

July 2022

Avante Garde Awardees 2022
  • July 22, 2022: Congratulations to our 2022 Avant-Garde awardees: Schahram Akbarian, M.D., Ph.D., from the  Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York and  Sandra A. Springer, M.D., from the  Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Akbarian’s project, Single Chromatin Fiber Sequencing and Longitudinal Epigenomic Profiling in HIV+ Brain Cells Exposed to Narcotic and Stimulant, will look at the genome organization and function in the HIV brain via a “retrospective” epigenomic profiling of single chromatin fibers. Dr. Springer’s project, Ending HIV: Bringing Integrated Prevention and Treatment Services to People Who Use Drugs Where They Live, will conceptualize and develop mobile hubs to bring evidence-based integrated opioid and HIV services to patients who are housed or unhoused. 

    In addition. the video recording of the 2022 Symposium on the Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV/AIDS and Substance Use Disorder Research is now online!  The recording features presentations on the cutting-edge research from several of our Avant-Garde awardees.

June 2022

  • June 13, 2022: Congratulations to the latest Avenir awardees! NIDA’s Avenir Awards are designed to stimulate innovation and potentially transformative research from early stage investigators researching the intersection of HIV and addiction science. “Avenir” is the French word for “future,” and these awards represent NIDA’s commitment to ensuring a skilled future investigator pool that is poised to address imminent problems related to Substance Use and HIV. This year’s awardees and projects are:

    • Allison M. Andrews, Ph.D., HIV and Cocaine Drive Bone-Marrow Blood (BMB) Barrier Dysfunction and Altered Hematopoietic Stem Cell (HSC) Differentiation Leading to Early Cardiovascular Disease
    • Peter R. Chai, M.D., M.M.S., Smart Steps: A context-aware adherence intervention to improve PrEP adherence among men who have sex with men (MSM) with substance use disorder
    • Steven Clipman, Ph.D., Molecular Networks and Deep Learning for Targeted HIV Interventions among PWID
    • Claudia Martinez, M.D., Looking into the Heart of Cannabis and HIV
    • Le Zhang, Ph.D.: Immune Network Dysregulation of the Central Nervous System with HIV Persistence and Opioid Abuse

    Read the description of the awardees and their projects.

May 2022

  • May 19, 2022: NIDA is pleased to announce a dual Notice of Special Interest in health communication science to address gaps in HIV prevention and treatment, in coordination with NIMH.

    We are seeking a better understanding of how various communication channels influence HIV behavior change at the individual, interpersonal and community levels, as well as how effective health communication is deployed at each stage of the HIV care continuum to advance HIV prevention, treatment and cure efforts across the lifespan. NIDA is especially interested in research that will enable the development, testing, and/or tailoring of  effective communication strategies, materials or campaigns to address topics related to HIV-related outcomes such as reducing stigma directed toward PWUD, including stigma involving providers and the medical community. We also seek to discover improved communication strategies to promote emergent clinical approaches related to PWUD (such as long-acting HIV agents) and how different communication approaches effect outcomes and can reduce misinformation regarding HIV, drug use, and their comorbidities.

April 2022

  • April 15, 2022: The NIDA HIV Research Program has opened registration for our May 18th Symposium on the Avant-Garde Award Program, a rare opportunity to interact with some of the most innovative investigators at the intersection of HIV and substance use. We will have presentations from previous awardees as well as NIDA leadership, followed by Q and A sessions. The webinar is on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 from 1:00–4:00 PM ET. Please join us and interact with these transformative scientists! 

    Since 2008, the NIDA Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV/AIDS and Substance Use Disorder Research has supported individual scientists of exceptional creativity at all career levels who propose high-impact research that will open new areas of HIV research and/or lead to new avenues for prevention and treatment of HIV among people who use drugs.

March 2022

  • March 20, 2022: NIDA-funded researchers published findings in the Journal of AIDS earlier this year related to altered gut integrity, which is central to HIV-related immune activation. To investigate the relationship between gut integrity and heroin use in people with HIV, NIDA-funded scientists prospectively enrolled 100 people in a cross-sectional study with and without HIV who use or never use heroin. Matching by age and sex as well as CD4+ count in people with HIV, they compared various markers of gut integrity, microbial translocation, systemic inflammation, and immune activation. The effect of heroin on these markers (except patrolling monocytes) was greatest among those without HIV. Scientists determined that heroin use is associated with heightened microbial translocation, systemic inflammation, and immune activation. However, concurrent HIV in virologically suppressed people does not appear to substantially worsen the effects heroin has on these markers.
  • March 15, 2022: Important approval news from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, reported by the International Partnership for Microbicides. The ring is the first longer-acting HIV prevention product designed specifically for women, which can be used discreetly every month to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. This milestone marks an important step toward expanding the number of biomedical HIV prevention options available to women in sub-Saharan Africa, who are among those most affected by the HIV epidemic.
  • March 8, 2022: Addressing intimate partner violence is crucial to ending the HIV epidemic, yet a NIDA-funded literature review documents few interventions, modeling studies, or economic evaluations that address both intimate partner violence and HIV, with none tailored for transgender populations. The review identified gaps in the science as well as opportunities for future research that uses socioecological models. They conclude that the primary biological mechanisms linking intimate partner violence to HIV are sexual partner violence and drug-related risk behaviors. The authors issued an urgent call for more implementation science funding to evaluate the efficacy, scale up, and cost effectiveness of novel, combination intimate partner violence and HIV interventions.

February 2022

  • February 24, 2022: A study published in AIDS and Behavior documents how NIDA-funded scientists conducted qualitative interviews with leadership and staff from a sample of 31 U.S. syringe services programs (SSPs). Respondents discussed urgent concerns, including reduced reach of services, suspended HIV/hepatitis C testing, high COVID-19 risk among people who use drugs, and negative impacts of isolation on overdose and mental health. The authors encourage shifting to evidence-based distribution practices and maintaining regulatory changes that increased access to opioid use disorder medications post-pandemic.
  • February 24, 2022: A special article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and collaborators published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine notes that syringe services programs (SSPs) are highly effective, cost effective, and safe in reducing HIV transmission. An in-depth literature review concluded that SSPs are instrumental to the success of the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, especially when combined with three other strategies: access to medications for opioid use disorder, re-exposure prophylaxis, and antiretroviral therapy. However, the authors document that coverage of these programs remains low in the United States, and the COVID-19 crisis is further exacerbating existing challenges faced by SSPs. Look to the NIDA website for more information on SSPs, as well as the Ending the HIV Epidemic Quarterly Stakeholder Webinar on the role of SSPs in ending HIV, featuring HRP Director Dr. Redonna Chandler.
  • February 17, 2022: A woman with HIV who received a cord blood stem cell transplant to treat acute myeloid leukemia has had no detectable levels of HIV for 14 months despite cessation of antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to a presentation at the 2022 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). The is the third known case of HIV remission in an individual who received a stem cell transplant. The research was conducted by the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trial Network (IMPAACT) P1107 observational study, and is funded by several institutes at NIH: the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Mental Health.
HIV/AIDS Strategy Cover
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  • February 2, 2022: The NIDA HIV Research program continues to recognize and promote science that examines disparities related to HIV risk and care. With the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7th, it’s a good time to review the 2022-2025 National HIV/AIDS strategy released only a few weeks ago. The strategy has been developed with an overarching vision that every person with HIV has high-quality care and treatment, and lives free from stigma and discrimination.

January 2022

  • January 10, 2022: The journal Health Affairs has announced that the manuscript, Clinical Outcomes Of A COVID-19 Vaccine: Implementation Over Efficacy, from a NIDA-funded study, was among the top 5 most-read studies of 2021. The study focused at the unprecedented global collaboration among governments, vaccine manufacturers, and researchers that was mounted to develop COVID-19 vaccines. The authors looked at factors that contributed to the success of the vaccine program, which include how well the public adheres to other mitigation strategies, including masks and social distancing. The study finds that factors related to implementation will contribute more to the success of vaccination programs than a vaccine’s efficacy as determined in clinical trials. It also highlights the importance of quickly identifying and responding to the sources of vaccine hesitancy.  The investigators conclude that while optimism is warranted, challenges of a vaccine’s effectiveness do not end once the vaccine is developed. The paper was authored by grantees A. David Paltiel, Jason L. Schwartz, Amy Zheng, and Rochelle P. Walensky, who became the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The list of most-read papers was announced on the journal’s January blog.
  • January 3, 2022: NIDA’s HIV Research Program sends best wishes to the scientific, clinical  and patient community for a productive and healthy 2022. While the future of COVID-19 looms large, our program moves forward with its new name that represents the evolving scientific focus on the HIV virus itself, as well as an enhanced focus on disparities research, knowing that access to HIV care differs dramatically among various populations, with stigma erecting barriers to life-saving care. In our World AIDS Day Message, we summarized some of our accomplishments in 2021, and hope you will also take a look at our scientific and policy timelines since the program’s inception in 2004. 

    We have exciting plans for 2022, and encourage you to keep an eye on our every-changing funding opportunities page designed to elicit proposals from the best and brightest in the scientific community. NIDA science offers a bridge between the intertwining epidemics of HIV and substance use, and in the past two years we been able to stimulate science that looks at how both epidemics are affected by a world pandemic. As HIV science grows more complex, the science is more important than ever. Please note our Notice of Special Interest opportunity for epidemiological investigations to quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV prevention, incidence, transmission, and outcomes. 

    We continue to be in awe of the scientists who send us extraordinarily innovative proposals for our Avant Garde and Avenir Awards, and offer our profound gratitude for the courageous patients who agree to participate in scientific research, as well as the clinicians from around the world who continually seek information to improve clinical care for people bearing the burden of both HIV and substance use. Happy New Year to all.

December 2021

  • December 27, 2021: Exciting news: Data from the HIV Prevention Trials Network studies HPTN 083 and HPTN 084 helped provide important information for the recent FDA decision to approve long-acting cabotegravir (CAB-LA) injections for the prevention of HIV. The studies showed that CAB-LA injected once every eight weeks was superior to daily oral tenofovir/emtricitabine for HIV prevention among cisgender men and transgender women who have sex with men and cisgender women. Both studies also demonstrated that CAB-LA was well-tolerated, offering a new and important pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) option. Read the HTPN press release for additional information on the details of the research and its slate of funders, including NIAID and the product distributor, ViiV Healthcare. NIDA collaborated on both studies.
  • December 7, 2021: With chronic pain prevalent among people living with HIV, NIDA-funded research suggests that the intervention called Targeting Effective Analgesia in Clinics for HIV (TEACH) is a promising strategy to improve this population’s adherence to chronic opioid therapy guidelines without evident adverse consequences. The two-arm, unblinded, clinical trial randomized care between (1) the TEACH intervention of 12 months with a nurse care manager with an interactive electronic registry, opioid education, academic detailing, and access to addiction specialists and (2) a control group consisting of usual care. Patients in the TEACH arm had a statistically significant improvement in both urine testing results as well as adherence to opioid treatment agreements.
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  • December 1, 2021: World AIDS Day is a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of NIDA’s HIV Research Program for the past year. Our scientific community moved forward with energy and innovation, despite the continuing challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. First, our big news this year was our name change; we are now the HIV Research Program, replacing “AIDS” with “HIV” to reduce stigmatizing language and better reflect the evolving scientific focus on the virus itself.  This past spring, NIDA- funded scientists discovered yet another link at the intersection of HIV and substance use with research findings that confirmed methamphetamine use is associated with the failure of viral suppression among sexual-minority men on ART, underscoring the importance of considering HIV status when conducting research into substance use prevention and treatment. Midyear, NIDA-funded scientists also launched a clinical trial in five American cities delivering integrated HIV-related health services through mobile clinics. In addition, we saw the publication of a NIDA-funded study suggesting that the initiation of buprenorphine treatment in people with HIV increases the probability of viral suppression after accounting for both measured and unmeasured confounders. There are just a few of our scientific accomplishments this year.

    Throughout the year and into the next, NIDA continues to offer innovative funding opportunities for a host of talented researchers, including a Notice of Special Interest in epidemiological investigations to quantify the impact of  the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV prevention, incidence, transmission, and outcomes.

    This year we received an unprecedented amount of applications for our Avenir and Avant-Garde Awards, and look forward to a robust year of scientific discovery in 2022.  As always, check the HIV Research Program website for ongoing funding opportunities. Information and links to these various projects and more accomplishments and opportunities can be found in our newly updated HIV Research Program historical timelines.  With the second largest HIV portfolio at NIH (next to NIAID), NIDA is grateful and proud to be part of the many scientific efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the United States and around the world.

    Redonna Chandler, HRP Director 
    Vasundhara Varthakavi, HRP Associate Director

November 2021

  • November 29, 2021: HIV mentors are in a unique position to identify and address factors that may lead to fellow mentees leaving their fields---critically important input with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting almost all sectors of academic training. In a recent study, NIDA-funded researchers used an online data collection platform to cross-sectionally query previously-trained HIV mentors on the challenges related to mentoring during the pandemic, and asked them to identify the surprising/positive aspects. Respondents reported challenges related to relationship building/maintenance, disruptions in mentees' training and research progress, and mentee and mentor distress, with particular concerns regarding mentees who are parents or from underrepresented minority backgrounds. Positive/surprising aspects included logistical ease of remote mentoring, mentee resilience and gratitude, and increased enjoyment of mentoring.
  • November 15, 2021: Results from a NIDA-funded study published in AIDS and Behavior in November 2021 suggests that internalized HIV stigma is significantly associated with stress and symptoms of depression, and enacted stigma is linked to stimulant use nearly a year later. Scientists used the Stigma and Substance Use Process Model to evaluate how HIV stigma impacts mental health outcomes among sexual minority men with HIV, with findings highlighting the need for tailored interventions targeting stigma and mental health in this population.

October 2021

  • October 29, 2021: See a recent study on how racism is associated with distrust of the healthcare system. This study looked at attitudes of Black and Latino young men who have sex with men, who often experience overlapping forms of stigma associated with their racial and sexual identities.  Analyzing data from the 2017-2018 waves of the Healthy Young Men's study, scientists found that this overlapping stigma was associated with healthcare system distrust, discouraging care- seeking.  The authors conclude that efforts to strengthen healthcare system trust should explicitly target the policies that disproportionately harm people of color.
  • October 5, 2021: NIDA officials published an analysis in JAMA Psychiatry on the rise in overdose deaths involving methamphetamine, which nearly tripled from 2015 to 2019 among people ages 18-64. Methamphetamine use has been linked to HIV transmission, as infectious diseases can spread by sharing injection equipment and through heightened unprotected sexual activity that is often associated with its use. In addition to the increase in overdose deaths, the data show that people reporting frequent methamphetamine use (100 days or more per year) rose by 66% between 2015 and 2019, and people reporting the use of methamphetamine and cocaine together increased by 60% during this period. The researchers found that from 2015 to 2019, the number of overdose deaths involving psychostimulant drugs other than cocaine, (largely methamphetamine), rose from 5,526 to 15,489, a 180% increase.

September 2021

HIV Research Program
  • September 30, 2021: We are pleased to announce that NIDA is renaming the AIDS Research Program (ARP) to the NIDA HIV Research Program (HRP) to better characterize our scientific investment at the intersection of HIV and substance use disorders. The name change aligns our HIV related science with less stigmatizing language, and reflects more contemporary HIV research and management approaches and priorities.  When the ARP program began in 2004, science had only just begun developing improved antiretroviral medications that have transformed HIV from a fatal disease into a manageable and livable condition. NIDA’s HIV research portfolio continues to be the second largest at NIH (after the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), and is committed to reducing the stigma that reduces access to care, and can harm mental health. While the name has changed, the mission continues. We will continue to support a wide range of studies, from the basic science of HIV pathogenesis and the immune response in the presence of addictive substances to research on new pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) products among people who use drugs. You can read more about this name change in this blog  from NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow.
  • September 22, 2021: Please note that we have discontinued RFA-DA-18-022: Advancing Exceptional Research on HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse (R01, Clinical Trial Optional). The PAS-18-915 has recently been reissued as RFA-DA-22-040: High Priority HIV and Substance Use Research (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) with the first application due date in February 2022.  The purpose of this Funding Opportunity is to support high priority research at the intersection of HIV and substance use. We invite innovative research projects with the potential to open new areas of HIV/AIDS research and/or lead to new avenues for prevention, treatment and cure of HIV among people who use drugs.

August 2021

  • August 27, 2021: See the new NIH funding opportunity that promotes research into HIV and women. American Women: Assessing Risk Epidemiologically (AWARE) (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) supports research that combines epidemiologic methods, digital technology, and data science approaches to better understand HIV prevention, transmission, and early care-cascade points for women living in the US. Findings should not only lead to a better understanding of how women remain vulnerable to HIV but also inform future pilot interventions aimed at decreasing the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among cisgender, transgender, and gender non-conforming women.
Presentation by Dr. Redonna Chandler
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  • August 13, 2021: At the July Ending the HIV Epidemic Quarterly Stakeholder Webinar, NIDA HRP Director Dr. Redonna Chandler discussed more than 30 years of research demonstrating that syringe service programs are safe, cost-effective, and prevent infectious disease outbreaks including HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
  • August 9, 2021: To determine which approaches best meet the dual objectives of improving population health and reducing racial or ethnic health disparities within the HIV epidemic, NIDA-funded investigators used measures of health equity to estimate the cost-effectiveness and epidemiological impact of two combination implementation approaches. Findings suggest that equity-focused HIV combination implementation strategies that reduce disparities for Black and Hispanic or Latinx individuals can significantly improve population health, reduce costs, and drive progress towards Ending the HIV Epidemic goals in the USA. Lancet HIV August 6, 2021 Improving health equity and ending the HIV epidemic in the USA: a distributional cost-effectiveness analysis in six cities  Quan et al.
  • August 9, 2021: Seeking to better understand the trajectories of infectious complications of injection drug use, NIDA-funded researchers examined temporal patterns in infectious diseases and their association with HIV cases in Lawrence and Lowell, Mass., between 2005 and 2018. They discovered that current-month HIV counts are associated with fatal overdoses approximately 8 months prior, cases of infective endocarditis 10 months prior, and cases of skin and soft tissue infections and incision and drainage procedures associated with these infections 12 months prior. Investigators suggest that collecting data on these other complications associated with injection drug use may alert public health systems to interventions needed to avert potential outbreaks of HIV. Open Forum Infect Dis. eCollection 2021 Jun., The Dynamics of Infectious Diseases Associated With Injection Drug Use in Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts, Gregg S Gonsalves.

July 2021

  • July 26, 2021: A review article in the New England Journal of Medicine reminds us that high rates of Substance Use Among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) must be viewed in the context of differences in demographic characteristics, types of substances used, and patterns of use. The review, authored in part by NIDA Deputy Director Wilson Compton, found that bisexual MSM have higher rates of substance use and substance use disorders than other subgroups of MSM, and higher rates than heterosexual men. Use of methamphetamine, nitrite inhalants, and other drugs as part of sexual encounters in this population contributes to the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The authors underscore that clinicians should operate within an established framework of stigma-free and trauma-informed care for MSM who use substances.
  • July 21, 2021: Research suggests interest in use of PrEP in rural settings - NIDA-funded research suggests that both oral and injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) have the potential to fill HIV prevention gaps for people who inject drugs (PWID) in rural settings. Survey findings among PWID in West Virginia, where an HIV outbreak is currently underway, showed that only 30% had heard of PrEP, and even fewer (3.7%) had used it. However, more than half were interested, including in PrEP injections. Making PrEP more widely available to people who use and inject drugs in West Virginia could be a powerful tool to address the HIV outbreak.  
  • July 13, 2021: The NIDA funded study The Effect of Buprenorphine on HIV Viral Suppression suggests that initiation of buprenorphine in people with HIV increases the probability of viral suppression after accounting for both measured and unmeasured confounders. Investigators recommend increasing access to buprenorphine for people with HIV in HIV settings to improve treatment outcomes by training providers and addressing provider, system, and policy level barriers to adoption of buprenorphine.

June 2021

  • June 30, 2021: Findings from a longitudinal cohort study highlight the need for rapid ART initiation and adherence support among people who inject drugs within Asian settings. This unique look at injection drug use in the Asia-Pacific region underscores the need for policies enhancing HIV management, adherence support, along with prevention and harm reduction services tailored for the needs of this population group. The study was funded partly by NIDA with other NIH partners, and appears in the Journal of the International AIDS Society.
  • June 22, 2021: National HIV Testing Day is this Sunday, June 27th - A day to encourage people to get tested for HIV, know their status and get linked to care and treatment. Started in 1995, this year’s theme is “My Test, My Way” to emphasize there are different ways and places to get tested, including home with a self-test. Learn more at
Blue and white health clinic vehicle for the NIH-funded INTEGRA study.
Image Courtesy of LifelineMobile®
  • June 14, 2021: “One Stop” Mobile HIV, Substance Use Clinics Coming to Five U.S. Cities - A clinical trial is underway in five U.S. cities to evaluate a model of delivering integrated health services through mobile health clinics. The study—known as INTEGRA, or HPTN 094—aims to assess whether this approach can improve HIV and substance use outcomes among people with opioid use disorder who inject drugs. These mobile clinics could become a model for expanding access to care and providing uninterrupted treatment.  For more information, see the NIDA news release.

May 2021

2021 HIV Avenir Award winners
Drs. Matthew Akiyama and Hansel Tookes
  • May 21, 2021: Congratulations to Drs. Hansel Tookes and Matthew Akiyama, the 2021 NIDA HIV Avenir Awardees whose work focuses on innovative approaches to enhancing HIV care and prevention in people who use drugs. Dr. Tookes from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine will conduct a randomized controlled trial that evaluates a new Tele-Harm approach to engage and retain people who inject drugs in HIV care that is delivered via syringe services programs. Dr. Akiyama from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine will leverage hepatitis C virus clusters in socioeconomically marginalized populations to build improved prevention strategies for HIV and other blood-borne infections. 

    NIDA’s HIV Avenir Awards are designed to stimulate innovation and potentially transformative research from early stage investigators. “Avenir” is the French word for “future,” as these awards represent NIDA’s commitment to supporting researchers who represent the future of science at the nexus of HIV and addiction.
  • May 17, 2021: Help spread the word: May 18th is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, to recognize the many scientists, health professionals, community members and volunteers working together to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV. 

April 2021

  • April 21, 2021 - New Funding Opportunities: NIDA is joining NIAID in three new RO1 funding opportunities (with clinical trials optional) linked to the pillars of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) initiative.
    • Due July 30th, 2021: Epidemiology to End the HIV Epidemic 
      Applications should address the RESPOND pillar of the EHE initiative. We are seeking research to help us better understand HIV susceptibility and ongoing transmission in the United States using local and population-level epidemiology in collaboration with implementing partners.
    • Due July 30th, 2021: Prevention Strategies to End the HIV Epidemic 
      Research funded under this funding opportunity will seek to reduce HIV incidence by supporting the goals of the DIAGNOSE and PREVENT pillars of  the EHE initiative. We are looking for creative, multidisciplinary approaches to meet the needs of specific populations and localities. This opportunity will support projects to improve use of evidence-based HIV prevention interventions among populations in priority areas identified as highly impacted by HIV.
    • Due August 4th, 2021: Multidisciplinary Treatment Approaches to End the HIV Epidemic 
      Proposals should address the DIAGNOSE and TREAT pillars of the EHE initiative by exploring concepts for improved healthcare engagement that result in rapid and sustained viral suppression and improved outcomes for people with HIV. We are looking for methodologies that utilize implementation science to develop, implement, and evaluate creative, multidisciplinary approaches to healthcare delivery that more effectively engage and retain individuals in HIV care and treatment so that they achieve durable viral suppression.

March 2021

Illustration of CRISPR Cas-9 segmenting DNA strands
Courtesy of NIH
CRISPR-Cas9 is a customizable tool that lets scientists cut and insert small pieces of DNA at precise areas along a DNA strand. This lets scientists study our genes in a specific, targeted way.
  • March 22, 2021 - We’d like to congratulate NIDA’s Avant Garde Awardee Melanie Ott and her colleagues for their just published manuscript in CELL on how CRISPR diagnostics can augment gold-standard PCR-based testing for COVID-19 detection. This exciting research developed a way to use CRISPR-Cas13a to detect and quantify SARS-CoV-2 RNA from patient samples without the need for a pre-amplification step, and demonstrated how the signal can be efficiently detected with a portable, mobile phone-based device.
  • March 10, 2021 - New Funding Opportunities:
    •  Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) for Multi-Level HIV Prevention Interventions: NIDA, along with the National Institutes on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and Mental Health (NIMH) are offering funding opportunities to test the effectiveness of multi-level interventions to prevent HIV in high-risk health disparity populations in one or more geographic hotspots, including men who have sex with men (MSM), and/or minority transgender women, as these populations account for over half of new infections. Projects are generally expected to be clinical trials promoting PrEP use, condom use, and HIV testing in HIV-negative individuals. NIDA is especially  interested in supporting research under this NOSI involving people who use drugs including members of key populations among whom drug use is a common HIV acquisition risk. Areas of special interest to NIDA are multi-level interventions that incorporate substance use treatment, harm reduction or other settings that commonly provide substance use services. Projects should use existing evidence-based HIV-prevention interventions or practices, either alone or in combination with new intervention elements.  NIDA is looking for structural interventions to reduce HIV acquisition conducted in partnership with clinicians and service providers responsible for delivering HIV prevention services or programs at the local, state, or regional level.
    • Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) Promoting Viral Suppression: NIDA, NIMHD and NIMH are also offering new funding opportunities that test interventions to promote ART initiation, ART adherence, and suppressed viral load for typically underserved people living with HIV in one or more hotspots. NIDA is interested in testing of interventions that directly engage sexual and/or injecting partners in ART adherence and HIV transmission prevention, as well as clinic-level intervention components to enhance cultural competency and reduce health-care related stigma and discrimination toward people living with HIV who are racial/ethnic or sexual and gender minorities. Proposals should include engagement of high risk populations and related subgroups, and should encourage collaboration with diverse local stakeholders. Projects that develop and test interventions to minimize delays in initiating or re-initiating ART services for people who use drugs are encouraged, as are proposals that incorporate cost-effectiveness analysis.
    • Please note the just released funding opportunity from our colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health on research applications to optimize health communication strategies that advance HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure efforts, as well as research on communication, dissemination and implementation factors that are required for successful public understanding and acceptance of HIV-related interventions.  Proposals are especially encouraged related to digital technologies, health disparities, as well as knowledge management and learning.

February 2021

January 2021

  • January 28, 2021 - Findings from two studies this month relate to the use of methamphetamine, a drug known to be an important factor in the transmission of HIV by increasing sexual urges and decreasing behaviors that prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
    • A double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III clinical trial demonstrated that a combination of two existing medications, injectable naltrexone and oral bupropion, was safe and effective in treating adults with moderate or severe methamphetamine use disorder. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the research was done at multiple sites within NIDA’s Clinical Trials Network. The investigators found that the effectiveness of the combination is similar to the effectiveness of analgesics for treating pain and most medical treatments for mental health disorders. You can read more about this exciting development in Dr. Volkow’s latest blog.
    • Highlighting the growing need for this treatment, an analysis by NIDA scientists over an eight year period ending in 2018 showed a five-fold increase of methamphetamine overdose deaths among people ages 25-54, with the biggest increase among American Indians and Alaska Natives. This important finding underscores the urgency of continued research into targeted and culturally tailored treatments for stimulant use disorder, which currently has no FDA-approved medication.
  • January 15, 2021 - Early stage and new investigators: It’s time to start thinking about applying for the HIV/AIDS Avenir award, which  provides up to $375,000 per year for 4 years to support cutting-edge and potentially transformative projects. Join us Wednesday, January 27th for a virtual symposium featuring previous award recipients to learn about the innovative research funded through this program. Note that applications are accepted in the summer and do not require preliminary data.

December 2020

  • December 29, 2020 - Year-End Message from the HRP Scientific Team - The year 2020 was difficult indeed, but despite the challenges of COVID-19, NIDA’s HIV Research Program moved forward with some impressive advances. At year’s end we learned that the NIDA-funded research on elite controllers was selected as one of nine runners up for Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year

See caption
Images from left to right: Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected H9 T-cell and SARS-CoV-2 emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab, courtesy of NIH/NIAIDBrain scan after discontinuation of drug use courtesy of Volkow et al., J. Neuroscience, 2001.
  • Other research published this year includes unprecedented findings that higher viral reservoirs might exist in the central nervous system of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART)-treated subjects, underscoring the importance of substance use status in developing targeted HIV therapies. In 2020, we also learned more about the link between rising stimulant use and HIV transmission, and how co-occurring methamphetamine use and HIV compounds the risk for contracting COVID-19

    In addition, we celebrated progress through our sponsorship of a supplement to the Journal of  Neuroimmune Pharmacology, Unraveling neuroHIV in the Presence of Substance Use Disorders, with ten NIDA-funded HIV-related scientific manuscripts.  We saw a mid-year blog from NIDA Director Nora Volkow looking at the intersection of HIV with substance use disorders amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and on December 1st, NIDA honored World AIDS Day by announcing new infographic timelines highlighting the program’s historical impact since its inception in 2004.  Finally, to bring HRP-stimulated research to the public more quickly, in 2020 we began posting online an ongoing selection of science highlights illuminating important advances in NIDA-funded HIV research. 

    The HRP team wishes all a Happy New Year filled with hope, and wants to give thanks to program staff and grantees who continue to pursue innovative science aimed at reducing the global burden of HIV. We’d especially like to mention staffer Andrea Czajkowski, who keeps things running day after day at NIDA’s AIDS Research Program.
  • December 14, 2020. Please note that the PAR-19-343 will now accept AIDS and AIDS-related applications, with a deadline extended to January 8, 2020. This  "Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity” announcement is a terrific funding opportunity for nonprofits, small businesses, local governments and higher education institutions (particularly those serving diverse student populations), with interest in projects that have the potential to improve the lives of those most at risk for HIV.
  • December 10, 2020. We’d like to bring to your attention a NIDA funded study examining the challenges of managing pain for people living with HIV. This can be important for people who use or have a history of misusing drugs, especially opioids, and now that safe and effective HIV treatment allows people living with HIV to lead long, productive lives. 
  • December 1, 2020, World AIDS Day. To celebrate World AIDS Day, NIDA has created two graphic timelines to honor the research and policy highlights that have advanced our scientific knowledge of the intersection of substance use and HIV transmission since NIDA’s AIDS Research Program was formed in 2004. One timeline identifies some of our high impact research findings, and the other identifies key policy and outreach milestones. These timelines not only reveal a history of program accomplishments but also forecast future achievements in research.
    • We also want to bring to your attention some new interesting research findings that examine the biological mechanisms of elite controllers—the tiny fraction of HIV patients who can suppress the virus without medication.

November 2020