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Issue No. 14 | April 6, 2007

News and Features

National Institute on Drug Abuse to Hold "Drug Abuse and Risky Behaviors: The Evolving Dynamics of HIV/AIDS" Meeting on May 8-9, 2007

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-sponsored meeting Drug Abuse and Risky Behaviors: The Evolving Dynamics of HIV/AIDS will take place May 8-9, 2007, in Bethesda, Maryland. The featured speakers for this conference are Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of NIDA, and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

In the United States, the spread of HIV/AIDS is a significant public health threat and is continually driven by drug abuse and substance addiction. To address the concerns created by the evolving HIV/AIDS pandemic, researchers are examining every facet of HIV/AIDS, including drug abuse, addiction, risk behaviors associated with injection and noninjection drug abuse, alteration in brain function and decision making due to drug abuse, and HIV prevention and treatment strategies.

This NIDA meeting will present issues regarding the effects of drug abuse and addiction on HIV/AIDS and is one of first ever NIH meetings to examine the role between noninjection drug use and HIV/AIDS. Presentations will include information on the successes, research challenges, and opportunities for addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This conference is designed for the research community, public health organizations, Federal agencies, and drug abuse and HIV/AIDS organizations.

Conference topics this year include:

  • How drugs of abuse alter brain function, leading to impaired decision making and risky behaviors, which in turn can facilitate the acquisition and transmission of HIV
  • How and to what extent substance abuse influences sexual risk behaviors
  • How substance abuse affects HIV/AIDS risk in diverse populations (e.g., adolescents, minorities, those involved with the criminal justice system)
  • How testing and counseling can be incorporated as a key component of HIV prevention strategies for drug-abusing populations

NIH and Institut Pasteur to Continue Collaborative Efforts on HIV Diagnostics Development

On April 3, 2007, a press release from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that the NIH and Institut Pasteur (IP) have agreed to continue their long-standing collaborative efforts of the past 20 years in HIV diagnostics. This agreement will support and promote collaborations in the field of HIV/AIDS research between leading scientists at NIH and IP and will lead to long-term public health benefits.

HIV diagnostic tools maintain a safe blood supply by donor screening and provide a means for early diagnosis and monitoring of HIV infection so patients may benefit from the receipt of early treatment regimens.

Understanding the complexities of an evolving virus requires the creation of new technologies, many of which have come from the laboratories of NIH and IP and are now being distributed by diagnostic companies worldwide with greater sensitivity and at a lower cost. The worldwide use of HIV diagnostic tools developed and licensed by NIH and IP underscores the importance of this agreement to continue their collaborative efforts.

Study Finds Combination Therapy with Pegylated Interferon Alfa and Ribavirin Best for People Coinfected with HIV and Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that causes liver inflammation and damage. Approximately 25% of people in the United States infected with HIV are also infected with HCV. HCV disease progression appears to be quicker in people coinfected with HIV. In addition, HCV coinfection makes effective HIV treatment more complicated because many anti-HIV medications can cause hepatotoxicity. For these reasons, it is important that effective treatment for HCV be made available to those who need it.

Recently, the American Journal of Medicine published a retrospective study by Campos et al. to determine whether treatment with interferon alfa and ribavirin, pegylated interferon alfa alone, or pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin was most effective in controlling HCV in people coinfected with HIV living in urban areas of the United States. The study found that combination therapy with pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin was the most effective treatment for controlling HCV. The study also determined by cost analysis that this treatment was also the most cost effective, making it likely to be available to more people in the United States.

Clinical studies enrolling people coinfected with HIV and HCV can be found on the Clinical Trials section of the AIDSinfo Web site.