Dr. Samuel Friedman, Recipient of NIDA 2012 Avant-Garde Award
National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI) congratulates Dr. Samuel Friedman, of the NDRI Institute for AIDS Research, on his receipt of a prestigious NIDA 2012 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research, announced today by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA's annual Avant-Garde award competition is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug abusers. Dr. Friedman will receive $500,000 per year for five years to support his Avant-Garde research project “Preventing HIV Transmission by the Recently-infected.”
Half or more of HIV transmission events may occur within the period of high infectivity that can last 11 months or more after a person is initially infected. Unfortunately, current intervention methods have not found effective ways to identify people during this “recent infection” period, which greatly reduces our ability to prevent transmission by them. Dr. Friedman’s research team plans to identify people newly infected with HIV and link them to care while also addressing HIV transmission through novel interventions that include community alerts and education, and efforts to prevent stigmatization, in the social networks and venues of those who have been recently infected. These interventions should reduce transmission even by many recently-infected people whom the project is unable to identify. From a public health perspective, the project will use up-to-date testing technologies and innovative network tracing and intervention techniques to shorten infection chains and reduce HIV transmission rates. Dr. Friedman hopes to test this intervention model (once it is finalized) to reduce HIV transmission in three locations where transmission is occurring rapidly: Among people who inject drugs and their extended networks in Greece and in Ukraine and among drug-using African American men who have sex with men and their extended networks.
Dr. Friedman has stated: “Unlike many other HIV prevention and treatment methods, this technique will follow the virus to where it is likely to be transmitted. We will start with drug users, but the network and community aspects of the project mean that we will also prevent transmissions among other high-risk persons if the infection chains lead us to them.”
National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI) is an independent, non-profit research and training organization established in 1967 to advance scientific knowledge toward innovative solutions for substance use, abuse and recovery and ancillary medical and social concerns, especially among high-risk populations. NDRI's focus has broadened to reflect the changing nature of public health issues and includes prevention and epidemiology of HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases, criminality and criminal justice, the integration of primary care and behavioral health, military and veteran’s issues, at-risk youth, and technology and health. Further information can be found on the NDRI website at: www.ndri.org.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse 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 abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at www.drugabuse.gov.