Thursday, July 23, 2009

Call Congress Today to Protect Peer Review and HIV/AIDS Prevention Research

We Need Your Help!

On Friday, July 24th, the House of Representatives is expected to begin debating the FY 2010 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, which funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While the current legislation provides a $941.8 million increase to the NIH, it is expected that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) will offer an amendment to the bill that would rescind funding from three currently funded, peer-reviewed grants that focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, as an example of wasteful spending.

Take Action:

Please call your member of Congress today and urge him/her to vote NO on this amendment.


NIH's peer review process is the gold standard for determining the quality and relevance of grant proposals. Scientists from universities across the country with expertise in their fields of research make independent and objective evaluations of each proposal submitted to the NIH. Advisory councils with public representation also approve studies before NIH funds them. Efforts to restrict peer-reviewed research would undermine one of the core principles of the research enterprise.

Given that HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic that has already killed more than 25 million men, women, and children and 33 million are currently living with HIV, it is clear that prevention of HIV infection should be a priority area of research funding.

The research is easy to ridicule if it is taken out of its public health context. The fact is, scientists need to explore a range of research avenues in vulnerable populations around the world to learn the best ways to control the transmission of HIV. In response to previous congressional concerns about whether sexual health research should be funded by the agency, NIH reviewed the entire NIH sexuality portfolio in 2004.

That investigation found that all of the NIH grants in areas of sexual health met the rigorous standards of scientific and ethical quality, that they were not funded out of proportion to the public health burden of these diseases, and that the merit review system had been followed.

Targeted Research Projects:

  1. Substance Abuse Use and HIV Risk Among Thai Women Grant Number: 1R21DA026324-01A1

    The proposed collaboration study between Ms. Usaneya Perngparn, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and Dr. Nemoto, Public Health Institute, California, will investigate the sociocultural contexts of HIV risk behaviors and drug use among Thai female and male-to-female transgender (kathoey) sex workers in Bangkok. Research is currently needed to develop and adapt HIV prevention models that take into account sociocultural factors so that the further transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections can be averted. Participation in these types of studies also can provide a way for persons suffering from the health consequences of illicit sexual activity to receive treatment while contributing to our knowledge of prevention and treatment outcomes in these populations.
  2. HIV Prevention for Hospitalized Russian Alcoholics Grant Number: 5R01AA016059-03

    Investigators are adapting a prevention approach that has been demonstrated to be effective in decreasing high-risk HIV related behaviors in the U.S. for use in Russia, a country with a rapidly expanding incidence of HIV.C2 The approach, called Health Relationships Intervention, involves the development of a plan of action for each client to increase social support and reduce high-risk behaviors. This includes the disclosure of information to family and friends on the client's health, social needs and condition thereby assisting the client in maintaining low risk behaviors.
  3. Venue-based HIV and Alcohol Use Risk Reduction Among Female Sex Workers in China Grant Number: 1R01AA018090-01

    Research has provided evidence linking alcohol-related, high risk sexual behavior with HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections. Research has also provided rich descriptions of social, cultural, and economic contexts in which people engage in alcohol-related sexual risk behaviors. More specifically, alcohol use characteristics (e.g., binge drinking) have been linked with sexual risk-taking that occurs in a range of high risk environments. The investigators have proposed a 5-year study to develop, implement, and evaluate a theory-guided, multiple components, and venue-based HIV and alcohol use risk reduction intervention among commercial sex workers (FSWs) in China.

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