The NIDA AIDS Research Program was honored to participate in the groundbreaking 23rd conference of the International AIDS Society (IAS), one of the premiere venues for stakeholders around the world to collaborate and discuss the latest research and practices around the study of HIV/AIDS. This year’s IAS conference was reorganized as a virtual meeting in response to the ongoing global pandemic. The online conference, titled AIDS 2020: Virtual, was held July 6-10 and included 24-hour access to the latest developments in HIV/AIDS research and updates on how the study of HIV/AIDS informs our approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of AIDS 2020 Virtual, the NIDA AIDS Research Program organized a satellite session, Time for Action: Ensuring Access to HIV Prevention, Treatment, and Care Services for People Who Use Drugs, to discuss the critical need to address substance abuse as part of an overall approach toward HIV elimination. Key public health experts and leaders contributed presentations covering topics including barriers and opportunities to increasing services uptake; approaches for such potential solutions behavioral/public health integration, program/policy implementation, emergency services delivery modes such as telehealth and engaging indigenous social networks; challenges and opportunities in international and domestic settings; and the evolution of the opioid epidemic in the United States and implications for HIV prevention and care.
The complete Time for Action session and individual presentations are publicly available on the AIDS 2020: Virtual session portal.
The multidisciplinary panel of experts was moderated by Brian Mustanski, PhD, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who introduced the session’s theme of improving interventions to address the co-occurring crises of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and institutional discrimination. Session presentations included:
- Using Implementation Science to Ensure Access to HIV Prevention and Treatment for People Who Use Drugs
- Frederick L. Altice, MD, Director of Clinical and Community Research and Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Yale University discusses evidence-based practices to prevent transmission of HIV in people who use drugs, the multi-level framework for implementation and strategies for facilitation, and potentials for synergy between HIV and substance use interventions
- Modeling What It Will Take to End the HIV Epidemic among People Who Use Drugs
- Natasha Martin, DPhil, University of California San Diego notes several critical factors in the drive to eliminating HIV among people who inject drugs, including the importance of context and impact of disparities, the need for a broader view of health, intervention quality and synergies, and work with special populations.
- Stigma, Trauma, Structural Racism Affecting HIV Care & Prevention for People Who Use Drugs in Washington, DC
- Michael Kharfen, of the District of Columbia Department of Health, shared an overview of DC’s drug using population, the negative societal and policy factors that impact HIV patients and people who use drugs in DC, and approaches informed by implementation science and harm reduction to address such negative factors and advance HIV/AIDS care.
- Challenges to Implementing Evidence-based Interventions in Global Settings (South Africa)
- Jackie Ndirangu, MSC-GH, RTI International discusses the challenges of implementing effective interventions on the ground, using South Africa as a case study to demonstrate how to transition to an implementation science framework and overcome structural and patient-level barriers to move from research to practice.
Following the presentations, Dr. Mustanski facilitated an engaging Q&A discussion among the panelists to delve further into these critical issues around effective implementation and care.
This NIDA facilitated session will identify barriers and opportunities to increase service uptake, and will debate approaches for potential solutions including behavioral/public health integration, and program/policy implementation. Includes emergent service delivery modes such as telehealth and engaging indigenous social networks in both international and domestic settings.