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Shiela Strauss, PhD, Awarded Fulbright
Senior Specialist Grant in Public/Global Health

Dr. Shiela Strauss, a Senior Principal Investigator at NDRI, has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to conduct a series of workshops and seminars in Israel regarding the institutional response to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) among drug users. She is being hosted by Dr. Richard Isralowitz, Professor and Director of the Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Resources Center at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel. Faculty, students, and professional personnel from the fields of social services and health care in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East and Europe will participate in the workshops and seminars.

HCV is currently the most common blood-borne infectious disease in the United States, and drug users (especially drug injectors) are disproportionately impacted. Since 2000, with support from NIDA, Dr. Strauss and her team have been examining the education, testing, and medical monitoring and support services that drug treatment programs in the United States have been providing to their clients. In the seminars in Israel, to be held in May, 2005, Dr. Strauss will detail the HCV service needs of drug treatment clients in the United States and the extent to which these needs are being met. She will also report preliminary findings from NIDA supported research currently underway that is examining the impact on staff, clients, and the drug treatment organization of a drug treatment program staff training on HCV.

Dr. Strauss’ research has identified a number of strategies that United States drug treatment programs have used to support their patients with regard to HCV. Many of these strategies can be readily adopted or adapted for use in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East. Thus, the seminars will also explore the potential for future collaborative efforts to advance knowledge about and advocacy for HCV infected substance abusers in Israel and the Middle East. Toward this end, Dr. Strauss will train several graduate students at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, the host institution, in the methodology employed in the United States’ projects. These students will then collect preliminary data concerning the provision of HCV services at institutions that treat substance users in Israel. Dr. Strauss will also meet with heads of government and social service agencies that support the needs of substance abusers.

April, 2005