UCSD Med School gets grant to study link between meth use, HIV/AIDS

UC San Diego’s School of Medicine was awarded a $17 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the link between methamphetamine use and HIV/AIDS, it was announced Tuesday.

The grant will be used to establish the Translational Methamphetamine AIDS Research Center, according to the university.

The funding — $3.6 million annually for five years — will enable researchers to study the combined effects of methamphetamine and HIV on the central nervous system, according to UCSD.

“Currently, the combined effects of meth and HIV are poorly understood,’' said Dr. Igor Grant, a professor of psychiatry at UCSD, who secured the grant. “There is a converging HIV epidemic among young, gay habitual meth users, which suggests meth may be amplifying the effects of HIV.’'

In San Diego, more than a third of those newly infected with HIV have used meth, according to UCSD.

UCSD researchers said meth causes users to be less inhibited, decreases the sensation of pain and increases energy. In chronic meth users, it may also create an inflammatory response in the brain that makes them more susceptible to HIV, they said.