Peers, Policy and Practice: Drug users as public health allies and potential social allies (abstract)

Speaker: prof. Samuel Friedman (National Drug Research Institutes, New York, USA)

Drug users have much more capability and willingness to do good than they are often credited with. This can be seen in their response to HIV/AIDS and to other threats to their own and others' health. Examples will be presented of: 1. Drug users’ organizations as active players in politics and harm reduction; 2. How drug users and neighbors in one section of Brooklyn, New York, worked out ways to coexist and minimize social disorder and violence; 3. Drug injectors’ efforts to protect themselves and each other against HIV before there are any programs in a locality; 4. Injection drug users' using condoms consistently in large proportions with partners who are not otherwise at high HIV risk.

 

CV: Samuel R. Friedman, Ph.D. (sociology) is a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for AIDS Research at National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Theoretical Synthesis Core in the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, New York City. (He is also a prior Director of the Research Methods Core in the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research.)  He also is associated with the Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, and with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.

Dr. Friedman is an author of about 400 publications on HIV, STI, and drug use epidemiology and prevention, including pieces in Nature, Science, Scientific American, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, the American Journal of Epidemiology, and the American Journal of Public Health. Recent research projects have included a review paper (AIDS, 2006) on the social research needs of the AIDS field; a study of social factors, social networks and HIV, STI and other blood-borne viruses among youth and drug injectors in a high-risk community; research on the impact of economic and political crises on HIV risk in Buenos Aires; a study of how some long-term drug injectors remain uninfected with HIV and HCV (i.e., how they Stay Safe); a study of socioeconomic and policy predictors of the extent of injection drug use, of HIV epidemics, and of HIV prevention efforts in US metropolitan areas; and research on why women injectors who have sex with women are at enhanced risk for HIV and other infections.

He has engaged in many international collaborative projects with the WHO MultiCentre Study of Drugs and HIV and with researchers in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, and other countries.  He has also written on international HIV topics such as war and HIV; sociopolitical transitions and HIV; and drug users’ organizations (user groups) as actors globally against HIV.

He is Associate Editor for Social Science of the International Journal of Drug Policy and is or has recently been on the editorial boards of AIDS, JAIDS, AIDScience, a Web venture for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, AIDS Education and Prevention, The Drug and Alcohol Professional, and Harm Reduction Journal.

Honors include the International Rolleston Award of the International Harm Reduction Association (2009), the first Sociology AIDS Network Award for Career Contributions to the Sociology of HIV/AIDS (2007), and a Lifetime Contribution Award, Association of Black Sociologists (2005).