BUSM Research Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Section of General Internal Medicine Karsten Lunze, MD, received an Early Career Investigator Award from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in April. NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, MD, presented the award in Taiwan at the “2013 International Conference on Global Health: Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse and HIV”. The award was issued by NIDA in collaboration with the National Health Research Institutes Taiwan, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration, and the UCLA Center for Advancing Longitudinal Drug Abuse Research.
Under the guidance of Jeffrey Samet, MD, Chief of General Internal Medicine, and in partnership with colleagues from the AIDS Council in Malaysia, Dr. Lunze investigated the role of structural risk in HIV prevention among drug users. Based on global qualitative and quantitative data, the group found that drug users’ risk environments, such as punitive drug law enforcement practices, adversely impact health behaviors and outcomes. Globally, drug law enforcement practices often constitute severe human rights violations. Available evidence suggests that police practices such as arbitrary arrests, planting of false evidence, and extrajudicial syringe confiscations are associated with unsafe drug injection behavior and HIV infection risk, but do not show a drug use-deterring effect.