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Issue No. 36 | August 19, 2011

News and Features

HIV/AIDS Researcher Dr. David Ho Wins the 2011 NIDA Avant-Garde Award

“The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced … that Dr. David Ho of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York, NY, has been selected as the 2011 recipient of the NIDA Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research. Ho’s proposal aims to develop a novel HIV therapy that could be administered monthly; as opposed to the existing daily treatment for HIV. NIDA's annual Avant-Garde award competition, now in its fourth year, is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug abusers. Awardees receive $500,000 per year for five years to support their research.

“‘Dr. Ho is taking a bold step to develop a new, long acting therapy that addresses the challenge of patient adherence with an imaginative solution,’ said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. ‘His proposal has the potential to make treatment much less burdensome on HIV patients, and at the same time improve outcomes.’

“Combination antiretroviral therapy, consisting of orally-administered small-molecule inhibitors of anti- HIV drugs taken daily, has revolutionized the treatment of HIV/AIDS. However, treatment failures continue to occur in a significant fraction of those treated, often due to incomplete patient adherence to the prescribed regimen. Lack of compliance is particularly severe among drug abusers. Dr. Ho’s project aims to develop antibody-like molecules that could be administered monthly for the treatment of HIV. A once-a-month treatment would improve the feasibility of directly observed therapy, an evidence-based adherence intervention. ‘Such antibodies are not only well tolerated and have an excellent safety record, but are also administered infrequently because of their long half-life as compared to small molecules,’ said Ho. ‘We believe this could be the next generation of medications to treat HIV.’”

More information is available:

CDC Announces New Web Page Topic: “HIV among Transgender People”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a Web page titled “HIV among Transgender People.” The page includes information on newly identified HIV infections among transgender people, prevention challenges in the transgender community, and the CDC response to recommendations for collecting data from transgender people.

SAMHSA Unveils New Web Page Focused on Behavioral Health and HIV/AIDS

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is dedicated to promoting wellness and reducing the impact of mental and substance use disorders on communities in the United States. Research shows that people with HIV/AIDS often have mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or mania, and the use of alcohol and drugs can increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.

SAMHSA recently launched a new Web page focusing specifically on behavioral health and HIV/AIDS. This page features the work that SAMHSA is doing to ensure access to appropriate behavioral health services and HIV/AIDS medical care among people who are at high risk of or already have a mental and/or substance use disorder and who are also most at risk of or already have HIV/AIDS.

The new Web page includes the following:

  • Information on free/minimal cost training and technical assistance for health care providers.
  • Information on SAMHSA’s grant program, which funds research on providing effective, culturally competent treatment, prevention, and services in minority communities.
  • Access to mental health AIDS, a quarterly publication that provides research updates on HIV and mental health.
  • Access to an online registry that reviews various interventions, including HIV-related behavioral health preventions and treatments.
  • Access to additional general HIV/AIDS resources.