New Name, Same Mission—NIDA’s HIV Research Program

In September 2020, NIDA announced it was renaming the AIDS Research Program (ARP) to the NIDA HIV Research Program (HRP) to better characterize the Institute’s scientific investment at the intersection of HIV and substance use disorders. AIDS describes the often-fatal condition of severe damage to the immune system caused by untreated HIV, but thanks to antiretroviral treatments, most people with HIV in the United States do not develop AIDS. Consequently, NIDA research now focuses on HIV and the many ways the virus intertwines with drug use and addiction. The name change also reflects the desire to use less stigmatizing language in addressing HIV: the term “AIDS” can evoke the haunting images from the early days of the HIV pandemic, when there was no treatment, there were few prevention options, and too many people succumbed to extreme illness. NIDA’s HIV research portfolio continues to be the second largest at the National Institutes of Health (after the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases). While the name has changed, the mission has not. NIDA 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 the name change in this blog post from NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D.