"Drug abuse prevention is HIV prevention," says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "Research has shown that a significant proportion of young people are not concerned about becoming infected with HIV. In recent years, the number of young people in the United States diagnosed with AIDS rose substantially. Because drug use encourages risky behaviors that can promote HIV transmission, NIDA views drug abuse treatment as essential HIV prevention."
While research has shown that a large proportion of young people are not concerned about becoming infected with HIV, the reality is that there exists a very real danger for those engaged in risky behaviors. In addition, minority populations are disproportionately affected by the health consequences of drug abuse and HIV. For example, in 2004, black and Hispanic women represented about 25 percent of all U.S. women, yet they accounted for more than 80 percent of AIDS cases diagnosed in women that year. African-Americans, while they make up just 12 percent of the population, accounted for approximately half of the total AIDS cases diagnosed in 2004.
NIDA and partnering organizations--including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families, and the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation--are working together to get this important message about the link between drug abuse and HIV to teens and young adults.
In addition to public service announcements distributed to television stations across the country, NIDA has launched a website, www.hiv.drugabuse.gov that provides the latest scientific findings on the relationship between drug abuse and HIV. One item on the Institute's new website is its recently released HIV/AIDS Research Report which provides an overview of the latest NIDA-supported research into the multiple ways in which drugs of abuse contribute to the spread of HIV.
For example, the Research Report notes that studies supported by NIDA already have shown that drug abuse can interfere with the efficacy of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a treatment that can greatly extend the lives of people infected with HIV. Other research has shown that HIV can continue to replicate in people who abuse methamphetamine, despite taking HAART as prescribed.