Messages from the NIDA ARP Team

We welcome those interested in NIDA’s HIV research. Watch this space for messages from the ARP scientific leadership team on interesting new findings in the field as well as funding opportunities from NIDA.

February 2021

January 2021

  • January 28, 2021 - Findings from two studies this month relate to the use of methamphetamine, a drug known to be an important factor in the transmission of HIV by increasing sexual urges and decreasing behaviors that prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
    • A double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III clinical trial demonstrated that a combination of two existing medications, injectable naltrexone and oral bupropion, was safe and effective in treating adults with moderate or severe methamphetamine use disorder. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the research was done at multiple sites within NIDA’s Clinical Trials Network. The investigators found that the effectiveness of the combination is similar to the effectiveness of analgesics for treating pain and most medical treatments for mental health disorders. You can read more about this exciting development in Dr. Volkow’s latest blog.
    • Highlighting the growing need for this treatment, an analysis by NIDA scientists over an eight year period ending in 2018 showed a five-fold increase of methamphetamine overdose deaths among people ages 25-54, with the biggest increase among American Indians and Alaska Natives. This important finding underscores the urgency of continued research into targeted and culturally tailored treatments for stimulant use disorder, which currently has no FDA-approved medication.
  • January 15, 2021 - Early stage and new investigators: It’s time to start thinking about applying for the HIV/AIDS Avenir award, which  provides up to $375,000 per year for 4 years to support cutting-edge and potentially transformative projects. Join us Wednesday, January 27th for a virtual symposium featuring previous award recipients to learn about the innovative research funded through this program. Register for the symposium here.   Note that applications are accepted in the summer and do not require preliminary data.

December 2020

  • December 29, 2020 - Year-End Message from the ARP Scientific Team - The year 2020 was difficult indeed, but despite the challenges of COVID-19, NIDA’s AIDS Research Program moved forward with some impressive advances. At year’s end we learned that the NIDA-funded research on elite controllers was selected as one of nine runners up for Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year.

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    Images from left to right: Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected H9 T-cell and SARS-CoV-2 emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab, courtesy of NIH/NIAID; Brain scan after discontinuation of drug use courtesy of Volkow et al., J. Neuroscience, 2001.
    Other research published this year includes unprecedented findings that higher viral reservoirs might exist in the central nervous system of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART)-treated subjects, underscoring the importance of substance use status in developing targeted HIV therapies. In 2020, we also learned more about the link between rising stimulant use and HIV transmission, and how co-occurring methamphetamine use and HIV compounds the risk for contracting COVID-19.

    In addition, we celebrated progress through our sponsorship of a supplement to the Journal of  Neuroimmune Pharmacology, Unraveling neuroHIV in the Presence of Substance Use Disorders, with ten NIDA-funded HIV-related scientific manuscripts.  We saw a mid-year blog from NIDA Director Nora Volkow looking at the intersection of HIV with substance use disorders amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and on December 1st, NIDA honored World AIDS Day by announcing new infographic timelines highlighting the program’s historical impact since its inception in 2004.  Finally, to bring ARP-stimulated research to the public more quickly, in 2020 we began posting online an ongoing selection of science highlights illuminating important advances in NIDA-funded HIV research.

    The ARP team wishes all a Happy New Year filled with hope, and wants to give thanks to program staff and grantees who continue to pursue innovative science aimed at reducing the global burden of HIV. We’d especially like to mention staffer Andrea Czajkowski, who keeps things running day after day at NIDA’s AIDS Research Program.
  • December 14, 2020. Please note that the PAR-19-343 will now accept AIDS and AIDS-related applications, with a deadline extended to January 8, 2020. This  "Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity” announcement is a terrific funding opportunity for nonprofits, small businesses, local governments and higher education institutions (particularly those serving diverse student populations), with interest in projects that have the potential to improve the lives of those most at risk for HIV.
  • December 10, 2020. We’d like to bring to your attention a NIDA funded study examining the challenges of managing pain for people living with HIV. This can be important for people who use or have a history of misusing drugs, especially opioids, and now that safe and effective HIV treatment allows people living with HIV to lead long, productive lives. 
  • December 1, 2020, World AIDS Day. To celebrate World AIDS Day, NIDA has created two graphic timelines to honor the research and policy highlights that have advanced our scientific knowledge of the intersection of substance use and HIV transmission since NIDA’s AIDS Research Program was formed in 2004. One timeline identifies some of our high impact research findings, and the other identifies key policy and outreach milestones. These timelines not only reveal a history of program accomplishments but also forecast future achievements in research.
    • We also want to bring to your attention some new interesting research findings that examine the biological mechanisms of elite controllers—the tiny fraction of HIV patients who can suppress the virus without medication.

November 2020