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Messages From the Director

World AIDS Day, 2008

NIDA Director Nora Volkow

December 2008

Although tremendous progress has been made in the United States in combating HIV/AIDS, more than 1 million people still live with HIV in this country (more than 33 million worldwide) and approximately one in five don't even know they're infected. Risky behavior linked to drug abuse is a primary factor in the spread of HIV in the United States. This is because drugs can change the way the brain works, disrupting people's ability to make good choices. The risky behaviors connected with drug abuse include not only needle sharing by injection drug users but also risky sexual behaviors resulting from intoxication and impaired judgment. The research we support at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is giving us new information about the pivotal role of drug abuse in the evolving HIV/AIDS epidemic and how to treat both problems more effectively. NIDA has undertaken several other activities to both promote innovative research to better understand this link and to raise awareness of it. To this end, our Avant-Garde Award - established last year - is enabling creative investigators to pursue novel, high-risk/high-payoff research on drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. Also, to further expand our "Learn the Link" campaign, we have launched a series of five "webisodes" to extend the storyline introduced by our successful "Text Message" and "After the Party" Public Service Announcements (PSAs) in 2006. The latter are still appearing on Jumbotron screens in high-profile spots around the country and are also airing on television stations nationwide. Please visit www.hiv.drugabuse.gov to learn more.

To commemorate World Aids Day 2008, NIDA is collaborating with AIDS.gov, an online gateway to all federal domestic HIV/AIDS information and resources, to participate in the virtual world of Second Life as part of a World AIDS Day event there. NIDA's campaign posters and TV PSAs will be featured in a resource center on a special island created for World AIDS Day (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Karuna/60/106/26). NIDA has also joined with Bloggers Unite, a social network for bloggers, to issue a "call to action" to write about HIV/AIDS on Monday. Bloggers are invited to post messages about the link between drug use and HIV and to share our campaign materials with their readers. Here is the URL for information: http://unite.blogcatalog.com/. Finally, we will continue our tradition of displaying a portion of the AIDS quilt in the lobby of our National Science Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to honor those who have died from HIV disease, and to remind our own staff of the importance of continuing research into the factors that contribute to HIV and AIDS.


Nora D. Volkow, M.D.

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This page was last updated December 2008

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