The need for an international forum for countries to share information on drug use and HIV/AIDS was identified at a NIDA research synthesis symposium in Arizona in 1997 at which scientists reviewed more than 10 years of research on HIV in drug-using populations. The scientists concluded that the HIV epidemic could be slowed among these populations, but that the exchange of information was crucial to the effort.
At the Geneva meeting, participants discussed the possibility of establishing an interactive electronic system. The system would use Internet links, e-mail, and other methods to rapidly disseminate scientific findings and effective HIV risk-reduction strategies to scientists and public health professionals around the world. As more solid, science-based research is conducted and shared, more effective interventions will be possible, the participants concluded.
More than 60 researchers and public health professionals from 21 countries attended the inaugural meeting of the Global Research Network, which was held in conjunction with the 12th World AIDS Conference. Participants presented overviews of HIV epidemiology and prevention research in their countries. They also reported on the organizational infrastructures and financial mechanisms that support their drug abuse and HIV/AIDS research activities.
Worldwide, 129 countries and territories now report injection drug use, with 108 countries reporting HIV or AIDS in the drug-using population, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, approximately one-half of the 41,000 new HIV infections each year occur among injecting drug users, their sexual partners, and their offspring. In Argentina, 36 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases are associated with injection drug use, and in Uruguay 26 percent are, according to UNAIDS data. In Asia, injection drug use is the major mode of HIV transmission, representing more than 80 percent of HIV cases in Kazakhstan, 75 percent in Malaysia, 75 percent in Vietnam, and 50 percent in China, said Dr. Andrew Ball, Medical Officer, Treatment and Care, of WHO/PSA. Injection drug use also is the major mode of HIV transmission in North Africa, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East, Dr. Ball said.
"NIDA-funded research in the United States has demonstrated that interventions to reduce the risk of HIV in drug-using populations can be effective," says Dr. Needle. "Through international collaboration in surveillance, prevention, and treatment of drug abuse and its consequences, we can look forward to introducing, adapting, and sustaining effective HIV prevention principles and programs in the global arena."
For More Information
To learn more about the Global Research Network, contact Dr. Richard Needle at (301) 443-6720; fax: (301) 480-4544; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.