September 1, 2010
Mr. Hasan Aamoudi, Dr. Mohammed F. Al-Afifi, and Ms. Emily Blitz  Mr. Hasan Aamoudi (left), chair, and Dr. Mohammed F. Al-Afifi, director of the Palestinian Substance Abuse Research Center, accept the UNAIDS Red Ribbon Award from Ms. Emily Blitz, International AIDS Society.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) presented its prestigious Red Ribbon Award to the Substance Abuse Research Center (SARC-AMAN) – Palestine. UNAIDS presents the Red Ribbon Awards at the biennial International AIDS Conference to recognize outstanding community organizations for their innovation and leadership in responding to the AIDS epidemic. The UNAIDS citation called SARC-AMAN “the first organization in Gaza to tackle issues of drug use and HIV, including stigma and misconceptions associated with these issues, in student and refugee populations.” In addition to research in drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, the center also provides family counseling services; runs prevention programs for tobacco, drug use, and sexually transmitted infections; maintains a drug use monitoring system; conducts community awareness and outreach activities; and trains outreach workers, counselors, and researchers. Mohammed F. Al-Afifi, M.D., M.Sc., directs the center and has partnered with NIDA grantees and scientists in Egypt, Israel, and the United States for more than a decade on drug abuse research. Since 2003, SARC-AMAN and Dr. Al-Afifi have participated regularly in the NIDA International Forum, presenting numerous studies jointly with his research partners. Dr. Al-Afifi’s research also has been supported by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the U.S. Agency for International Development Middle East Regional Cooperation Program, and STOP AIDS NOW! in The Netherlands.