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Drug abuse and AIDS: how young people are at risk.

Dear Teacher:

More than ever before, teens today are at risk for the deadly blood-borne illnesses AIDS and hepatitis C. We know for a fact that drug abuse is the single largest factor driving this troubling trend.

How is that so? We have long understood that blood-borne viruses are spread by behaviors related to drug use, such as sharing contaminated needles. In addition, research indicates that many drugs of abuse can affect judgment, which means that teens under the influence of drugs are more at risk for behaviors that can lead to the transmission of blood-borne viruses. Perhaps even more disturbing, though, is another fact also at play: Drug abuse causes long-term changes to the parts of the brain responsible for decision making.

In this installment of HEADS UP: Real News About Drugs and Your Body, we give students the facts about the connection between teen drug abuse and blood-borne illnesses. We also explain the science of AIDS and hepatitis C and show how research is illuminating new ways to fight and understand these diseases and the disease of addiction. Finally, we remind students that when they are armed with information that will enable them to make smart choices, they are in a unique position to fight the spread of HIV and hepatitis C-creating a safer world for themselves and their peers.

Thank you for bringing this enormously important scientific information to your students. You are truly a key player in the fight against addiction and disease.

Sincerely,

Nora D. Volkow, M.D. Director of NIDA
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Title Annotation:Teacher's Edition
Author:Volkow, Nora D.
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Mar 7, 2005
Words:256
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