The evolving nature of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, dynamic shifts in drug use patterns, criminalization of drug use and other HIV risk behaviors, along with the use of new technologies and other rapid advances in treatment and prevention create continuously changing ethical challenges for HIV research involving people who abuse drugs. NIH has recently called for research programs at all levels to include face-to-face instruction in RCR. However, few programs provide such training and to date the NIDA funded (DA031608) Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Training Institute (RETI) is the only program to provide early career clinical scientists with knowledge of and ability to generate empirical data that can enhance HIV/drug abuse research ethics practices and policies. This 5-year renewal will sustain and expand upon RETI's success. The long-term objectives of the RETI are to produce a new generation of clinical scientists with the skills to address the health and human rights needs of drug using populations and to meet the global need for empirical and educational resources to inform HIV/drug abuse research ethics practices and policies. These objectives will be met through the following specific aims: To 1: increase early career clinical scientists' knowledge of and capacity to address key ethical issues in HIV/drug abuse prevention research; 2: increase early career clinical scientists' capacity to engage communities in the construction of HIV/drug abuse participant protections; 3: increase early career clinical scientists' capacity to conduct empirical research on HIV/drug abuse prevention research ethics practices/policies; 4: create and sustain a global information network for enhancing ethical knowledge and evidence-based ethics practices/policies for HIV/drug abuse prevention research ethics; and 5: provide online global resources to facilitate the ability of faculty in other graduate and post-graduate training units to mentor and teach HIV/drug abuse prevention research ethics. To achieve these aims the program will: (1) recruit highly qualified ethnically diverse clinical scientists from multiple disciplines and national and international settings; (2) update the 2-year intensive on-site curriculum to include a new innovative focus on emerging ethical issues in HIV prevention research designs that incorporate addiction treatment and harm reduction strategies; (3) provide experiential training in community engagement in the design and dissemination of HIV/drug abuse research; (4) provide year-round mentoring and financial support for trainees to design, conduct and disseminate population-sensitive empirical studies to inform HIV/drug abuse prevention research ethics policies and practices; (5) expand RETI on-line public resources including an extensive HIV/drug abuse research ethics bibliography, Ethics Scales and Measures Resources page, and Ethics & Society blog; and (6) create downloadable webinars, podcasts, video lectures, and educational modules for use by faculty and supervisors in other research units.
The burden of HIV/AIDS falls hardest on people who inject or use drugs who are often among a nation's poorest, most disempowered and stigmatized populations. Through its intensive summer training curriculum for early career clinical scientists, mentored trainee research ethics project, and public online resources the Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute responds to the NIH call for increased education in the responsible conduct of research and the global need for empirical and educational resources to inform HIV/drug abuse research ethics practices and policies.
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