The critical role of people living with HIV in shaping biomedical prevention research
G. Caswell1, J. Beloqui2, S. Bukiki3, G. Cairns4,5, R. Gustav6, E. Johnson7, R. Jones1, M.-A. LeBlanc8, S. Rosenthal9, O. Stryzhak10, M. Sachikonye11
1Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2Latin American Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (REDLA+), Sao Paulo, Brazil, 3HIV Collaborative Fund, ITPC, Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire, 4NAM, London, United Kingdom, 5European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG), London, United Kingdom, 6Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+), Bangkok, Thailand, 7International Community of Women Living with HIV, Washington DC, United States, 8Independent Consultant, Quebec, Canada, 9GNP+NA, El Paso, United States, 10All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV, Kiev, Ukraine, 11PozFem, London, United Kingdom
Issues: Increasing access to HIV treatment is a global health priority, and an essential part of a comprehensive approach to addressing HIV. However, we need to reduce rates of new infections to afford ongoing treatment. Advocates are demanding better access to existing prevention options and the development of new prevention technologies (NPTs). This work must be done in a way that ensures that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of people living with HIV are adequately addressed.
Description: GNP+ convened a working group, composed of members from six regional networks of people living with HIV and partner networks, to help shape its NPT-related work. The working group held a series of four teleconferences focused on key ethical considerations in HIV prevention trials, the involvement of people living with HIV in prevention research, and the use of treatment for prevention. An online discussion forum provided space for working group members to share regional experiences and perspectives.
Lessons learned: The working group highlighted the need to deliberate issues of ethics, access and regulation in the use of ARVs for both prevention and treatment. The current focus on ARV-containing compounds raises questions about safety, drug resistance, scale-up of testing and implications for those in trials who become HIV-positive. Experiences from clinical trials show the realities of HIV stigma in communities where trials are taking place. People living with HIV can identify strategies to help people who seroconvert deal with issues of disclosure and access to services.
Next steps: The field of biomedical prevention research will continue to evolve, with an increasing focus on ARV-based prevention. The relevance for people living with HIV has never been stronger in ensuring that the experience, rights and interests of HIV-positive people and people who seroconvert are recognised and addressed through existing NPT advocacy and research efforts.
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