In 2009, HJFMRI supported the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) in the launch of an ambitious multi-site study called RV217 in East Africa and Thailand that followed a group of HIV negative volunteers from key populations and tracked their HIV status to characterize progression through the early stages of acute HIV infection if they did become infected. This pioneering research was designed and led by HJF’s Dr. Merlin Robb, who now serves on HJFMRI’s board of directors.
HJFMRI partnered with MHRP throughout study planning and completion. Especially notable were the contributions of the community engagement teams, staffed partially by HJFMRI health workers, who worked to engaged and educate local communities to recruit and retain participants. RV217 concluded in 2018, with more than 5,400 volunteers enrolled in the study and 150 incident cases observed. 235,950 blood-draw visits occurred, and the 86% rate of volunteer visit compliance was key to RV217’s success.
The study’s impact on HIV research continues, and the New England Journal of Medicine publication stemming from the study has been cited more than 270 times.
CASE STUDY: Community Engagement Helps Overcome Challenges to HIV Vaccine Trial Recruitment
In early 2021, as COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions disrupted public life around the globe, HJFMRI partners faced the challenge of enrolling a newly launched HIV vaccine trial. An established community engagement team found new pathways to engage stakeholders and participants.