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The Network Paradigm in Research on Drug Abuse, HIV, and Other Blood-borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections: New Perspectives, Approaches, and Applications

NIDA/CAMCODA Working Meeting

May 3-4, 2001
Doubletree Hotel, Rockville, MD
SUMMARY


Sponsor:
Center on AIDS and Other Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse (CAMCODA), NIDA

Henry L. Francis, M.D.
Helen Cesari, M.Sc.
Elizabeth Y. Lambert, M.Sc.


Summary of the Working Meeting:

Purpose:

On May 3-4, 2001, NIDA's Center on AIDS and Other Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse (CAMCODA) sponsored a Working Meeting on "The Network Paradigm in Research on Drug Abuse, HIV, and Other Blood-borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections: New Perspectives, Approaches, and Applications" in Rockville, Maryland. The meeting was co-chaired by King Holmes, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center for AIDS and STDs at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, and Richard B. Rothenberg, M.D., Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together social network researchers with expertise in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV/AIDS, and drug abuse to present their research data, exchange scientific information, and identify gaps and future directions in the study of network dynamics, disease transmission, and control. Participants provided overviews of their research projects on the interactions of drug use and sexual risk behaviors relative to the spread of disease within and between different social networks. Several presenters focused on adolescents and the nature of risk-taking among youth and young adults. General population surveys and targeted studies have shown that many adolescents are at risk of drug use and sexual activity, placing them at considerable risk for STD transmission, including the spread of HIV/AIDS. Other presenters addressed the role and importance of network dynamics and multiple risk behaviors (including polydrug use and unprotected sex with multiple partners) on disease transmission; the influences of local circumstances, including time, geography, and place, on patterns of drug use, sexual behaviors, and the incidence and prevalence of disease; and the applications of social network approaches for understanding the epidemiology of infectious disease and improving disease intervention and control.

Workshop Meeting Process:

The agenda for the 2-day Working Meeting included presentations by meeting participants on their current analytic research projects and ways that their data demonstrate the dynamics of drug use and sexual activity within risk networks relative to the spread of STDs, HIV/AIDS, and other adverse health and social events. Meeting discussions focused on the nature and scope of past and current network research, gaps and priorities for future study, and future steps to develop an overview paper on risk networks, their relationship to disease transmission, and the implications of risk networks for implementing effective public health interventions for disease control.

Next Steps:

The second day of the Working Meeting began with considerable discussion of plans by this group and others outside the group to develop the overview paper and/or a set of papers for a special issue of a journal on social network dynamics, risk behaviors, and the spread of infectious diseases. In addition, participants identified one or more possible symposia for presentation at upcoming scientific conferences, including the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain in July 2002.


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