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.

June 2024

  • June 21, 2024:  Important News! Two clinical trials have been launched to test the novel injectable form of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis lenacapavir. One trial will enroll a diverse group of people who inject drugs, and the other will target cisgender women who self-identify as Black and/or Latina in particular. Lenacapavir is the first long-acting injectable to be offered with administration just once every six months. The studies are sponsored and funded by Gilead Sciences, Inc., and implemented through the HIV Prevention Trails Network (HPTN), which is supported by grants from NIDA and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
  • June 17, 2024:  Join us in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the NIDA HIV Research Program! As we look back, we are in awe of what we have accomplished since we integrated substance use research with HIV science, recognizing that people who use drugs are at great risk for HIV.

    We have developed the seek, test, treat, and retain model of care and have affirmed the importance of medication for opioid use disorder (OUD) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV transmission. We have stimulated the development of the one-of-a-kind consortium known as ‘SCORCH’ (Single Cell Opioid Responses in the Context of HIV) that has developed epigenomic data sets for brain regions relevant to persistent HIV infection and opioid use disorder. In addition, HRP has stimulated new research aligned with the goals of the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, discovered evidence-based harm reduction interventions, and illuminated the counterproductive stigma related to HIV care for people who use and inject drugs. We have also had enormous success with our signature award programs: the NIDA Avant-Garde Award for innovative researchers at all levels, the NIDA HIV Avenir Awards for early-stage investigators, and the recently released NIDA High Priority HIV Research Award for teams of three to six investigators working at the nexus of HIV and substance use.

    Our 20th anniversary comes as NIDA celebrates its 50th anniversary as an NIH institute. We hope these past accomplishments will inspire our youngest researchers, who will investigate the intersection of substance use and HIV through the next two decades. To see more of HRP’s highlights from the last 20 years, see the HRP Research Timeline.

  • June 7, 2024:  New seminar coming from the NIDA HIV Research Program on Wednesday, July 31st,  from 1-2 pm! “Social and Political Determinants of HIV Among People Who Use Drugs”,  presented by Ricky Bluthenthal, Ph.D. - a Distinguished Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Dr. Bluthenthal conducts community-partnered research at the intersection of harm reduction and health disparities among people who use drugs. Registration is now open.

May 2024

  • May 29, 2024:  Note a unique funding opportunity from NIDA and  a coalition of other NIH institutes and centers: an RFA for research designed to capacitate, transform, and scale the delivery of HIV testing, prevention, and care services through pharmacists and pharmacies in US and/or global settings, including advancement of training curriculum. See RFA-MH-25-185 which uses the R01 mechanism and  RFA-MH-25-186 which uses the R21 mechanism. Applications are due on August 13 of this year.

March 2024

February 2024

January 2024

  • January 29, 2024:  Methamphetamine use is considered to be an HIV risk behavior. A new NIDA-funded analysis published in the Journal Addiction looked at thirteen studies and concluded that reduced frequency of stimulant use appears to be associated with meaningful improvement in various clinical indicators, including HIV risk behaviors. These findings could broaden the scope of treatment success measures related to stimulant use,  leading to more individualized approaches to recovery. Read the NIDA news release.
  • January 10, 2024: Coming soon - The next installment of our NIDA HIV seminar series is on January 24th from 1-2 pm. Tune in to a talk from Dr. Sandra Springer, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine and a 2022 recipient of the NIDA Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV and Substance Use Disorder Research. Her presentation will be titled “Integrating Addiction and HIV Prevention and Treatment for Everyone and Bringing It to Where They Live.” Dr. Springer’s research integrates aspects of substance use and infectious diseases, with a focus on opioid use disorder treatment and the treatment and prevention of HIV among people with carceral experience.
December 2023
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    December 22, 2023: New Year's Message - 2024 promises to be an exciting year. Research teams are moving forward on projects addressing a wide array of questions related to HIV, substance use, and substance use disorders (SUDs). We will hit the ground running on January 24 at 1 p.m. EST with another presentation in our quarterly NIDA HIV Seminar Series, “Integrating Addiction and HIV Prevention and Treatment for Everyone and Bringing It to Where They Live,” featuring Dr. Sandra Springer of the Yale School of Medicine, an expert in mobile health care and a 2022 awardee of the NIDA Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV and Substance Use Disorder Research.

    Funding opportunities with due dates early in the year include research into ex vivo imaging technologies, along with necessary coordinated pipelines encompassing tissue procurement, histological processing, and related computation. We are also encouraging applications to elucidate neurobiological mechanisms underlying the influence of psychosocial stress on SUDs and co-occurring psychiatric disorders in people living with HIV. In addition, we are encouraging research to explore mechanisms of inflammasome activation and their link to neurocognitive disorders and immune function in people with HIV and SUDs.

    In the summertime, we will be looking for applications that can build interventions to address the interrelated and compounding factors that contribute to substance use and HIV risk among survivors of sex trafficking. In addition, we will be launching an opportunity to support mining of single-cell data sets to identify cell types, transcripts, enhancers, or transcriptional networks that play a role in HIV/antiretroviral therapy (ART) or SUD. A third summertime opportunity we’d like to highlight supports epidemiological, intervention, or implementation research aimed at reducing the number of new HIV infections among sexual and gender minorities.

    In the fall, we look forward to soliciting applications for research elucidating the effect of HIV and/or ART on the growth, development, and functioning of the placenta in pregnant individuals with substance use/misuse.

    These are just some of the many funding opportunities that will broaden the scope and reach of HRP in 2024 as we continue to support groundbreaking investigation at the intersection of HIV, substance use, and SUDs. There are more funding opportunities and additional information on our HIV/AIDS Funding Opportunities webpage. We offer our continuing support to HRP’s ongoing researchers and look forward to applications from investigators new to HRP who will bring in different perspectives and approaches to our challenging field. And of course, don’t forget our Avant-Garde and Avenir awards, which seek high-risk, high-reward applications from researchers at all levels of experience. To see our progress from previous years, see our most recent World AIDS Day Message (below) and our newly updated Research Findings Timeline.

    We want to thank the research community for all of your hard work over the years. Your commitment to research to end HIV and SUD seeks to ensure that everyone in need receives evidence-based prevention and treatment services, and your work on addressing stigma and discrimination is admirable. We look forward to continuing our support of this important research and hope to see you in the new year.

  • December 1, 2023: World AIDS Day Message from the NIDA HIV Research Program - Each year as we approach World AIDS Day, our thoughts at the HIV Research Program (HRP) turn to those researchers, clinicians and patients who experience life in the trenches of the fight against HIV and addiction amidst multitude of socioeconomic vulnerabilities and structural and systemic inequalities. As the NIH institute with the second largest HIV research budget (next to NIAID), we are committed to supporting research to improve the lives of communities who are at risk or affected, while we promote efforts to destigmatize attitudes towards those experiencing the dual epidemic of HIV and substance use disorders. In April of this year, NIDA-funded investigators published a manuscript showing that about 11% of people living with HIV had used opioids nonmedically in the previous year, compared with about 4% of those who were HIV-negative; a clarion call to clinicians to increase both HIV and substance use screening. To those studying these complex and intertwined health conditions, we applaud your brilliant work, and admire your innovation and persistence.

    Despite the challenges, this year in particular we have much to celebrate. After examining years of research, the United States Preventive Services Task Force issued a Grade A recommendation that clinicians prescribe preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) using effective antiretroviral therapy to persons who are at increased risk of HIV acquisition, which includes people who inject drugs. This recommendation underscores the importance of cumulative research related to the intersection of substance use and HIV, and the need for the HIV community to clearly articulate research findings to all critical audiences. A few months later, a study based in part on foundational research stimulated by NIDA demonstrated the importance of this recommendation - suggesting that implicit and explicit biases among primary care providers against people who inject drugs do indeed affect their willingness to prescribe PrEP.

    To honor World AIDS Day, we suggest that interested investigators at all levels check out the newest research opportunities on our HIV funding page. As we do every year on this day, the HRP has added new content to our historical timelines that showcase progress throughout the years in both our scientific and policy arenas. This historical glimpse at NIDA’s HIV projects illuminates how far we have come since our research program was launched nearly 20 years ago.
November 2023
October 2023
Monica Gandhi, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Chief in the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Also Katerina Christopoulos, M.D., M.P.H.,
Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH, and Katerina Christopoulos, MD, MPH
  • October 23, 2023: - Join us Wednesday, October 25 at 11:00 a.m. EST as 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). Dr. Gandhi’s research focuses on HIV treatment and prevention optimization, HIV and women, adherence measurement in HIV and TB, adherence interventions, and the interplay between COVID-19 and HIV. Dr. Christopoulos’ research program focuses on improving care cascade outcomes for urban undeserved people with HIV in the United States. Get more information and register for the seminar.
  • October 10, 2023: - Xylazine is an FDA-approved veterinary drug with sedative and analgesic properties that has been increasingly identified in the unregulated drug supply, but it is unclear to what degree people are using it, if they understand the dangers from human use, or whether they know it is present in their drug purchases. NIH has released a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) to learn more about the public’s use and understanding of xylazine-adulterated products and to learn more about how emerging human use impacts treatment of opioid use disorders and overdose. Learn more about the NOSI: Xylazine: Understanding Its Use and the Consequences.
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 list. 

    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).
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.