A new federal funding opportunity was announced today to help find solutions to the opioid use and overdose crisis in the nation’s rural regions. It includes a focus on coal-impacted counties within Appalachia, as well as rural communities in other parts of the country. This initiative will support comprehensive, integrated approaches to prevent opioid injection and its consequences, including substance use disorder, overdose, HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, along with associated conditions, such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and sexually transmitted diseases. These projects will work with state and local communities to develop best practice responses to opioid injection epidemics that can be implemented by public health systems in the Nation’s rural communities.
The Request for Funding (RFA) titled, "HIV, HCV and Related Comorbidities in Rural Communities Affected by Opioid Injection Drug Epidemics in the United States: Building Systems for Prevention, Treatment and Control (UG3/UH3)," is being funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIDA/NIH), in collaboration with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a federal-state partnership; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). More information for RFA-DA-17-014 can be found here: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-DA-17-014.html. An accompanying RFA, co-funded by NIDA and CDC, titled "Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Advanced Molecular Detection in Support of Systems for Prevention, Treatment and Control of HIV, HCV and Related Comorbidities in Rural Communities Affected by Opioid Injection Drug Epidemics in the United States," will support a Center for HCV next-generation sequencing using Global Hepatitis Outbreak and Surveillance Technology. The RFA can be found here: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-DA-17-023.html.
Rising overdose deaths and substance use disorder treatment rates in many rural communities indicate sharp increases in opioid use, resulting in high rates of opioid use disorder, injection drug use, and unmet needs for treatment services in these locales. These dramatic increases have led to high rates of opioid overdoses, as well as large increases in acute HCV infections and the potential for localized HIV and continued HCV transmission. Rural communities face special challenges in implementing services to prevent and control substance use and these related conditions. Low population densities and limited public transportation mean that access to public health services and treatment are limited. State-level public health surveillance systems often have difficulty detecting infectious disease outbreaks in rural areas and may lack field staff experienced with health care networks in these regions.
In an effort to improve research-driven interventions that can address critical public health threats in rural Appalachia, four awards were issued earlier this year in response to a separate NIDA/ARC funding opportunity: "Services" (RFA-DA-16-015). Those grants are designed to help develop an epidemiologic understanding of opioid injection drug use, HIV and HCV infection risk, and other adverse health consequences of drug use in the Appalachia states.
As part of that initiative, three grants were awarded to the University of Kentucky Research Foundation:
Improving Outcomes after Prison for Appalachian PWIO (People who Inject Opioids): The Role of XR-NTX & Networks—This research aims to understand the factors and barriers related to an effective continuum of care for people who inject opioids, as they leave prison and return to their normal lives. The ultimate goal of this research is to reduce barriers to medication assisted treatment during and after transition.
Contact: Beth Oser, Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky
Epidemiology of HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) Treatment Knowledge and Utilization among Opioid Injectors in Rural Appalachia—This project will examine knowledge of new HCV pharmacotherapies and willingness to engage in HCV treatment among rural HCV-positive people who inject drugs. In addition, investigators will evaluate the capacity of the current health care system to provide HCV treatment to this population in Appalachian Kentucky.
Contact: Jennifer Havens, Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky
The Epidemiology of Public Health Policies and Opioid Injection Drug Use in Appalachia—In partnership with the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), this project will examine how state-level health policies for preventive and treatment services for injection opioid use intersect with individual-level need for services and utilization.
Contact: Scott Novak at RTI
A fourth award went to the University of Pittsburgh. Identifying Ecologically Valid Intervention Opportunities to Reduce Opioid Injection Drug Use in Southwestern Pennsylvania—This project will look at the intertwined relationship between injection opioid drug use and other health conditions, including HCV and HIV infection, and how to better inform and integrate prevention and intervention efforts.
Contact: Jessica Griffin Burke, Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh
For further information:
CDC Press Office:
CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
News Media Line – 404-639-8895
NIDA Press Office
About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. For more information about NIDA and its programs, visit www.drugabuse.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®