Welcome to the newest edition of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) Community Compass.
For more than 3 decades, HIV/AIDS has continued to impact individuals, families, and communities in the United States and around the world. From a socio-ecological lens, the factors that influence HIV cases in people and communities are both complex and numerous. Besides behavioral factors that contribute to direct acquisition and transmission, there are social and structural factors such as stigma/discrimination, heterosexism, poverty, intimate partner violence, economics, cultural and social norms regarding gender and sex assigned at birth, sexuality, and ethnicity/race. These all converge to create the conditions that make acquisition and transmission more likely. There are some populations that are more vulnerable to HIV and are impacted disproportionately. “Disproportionately” simply describes the reality that the rates of HIV in the population exceed the estimated (or actual) population size. These populations (generally) require more focused and specific efforts for engagement in HIV prevention, care, and treatment, and are often vulnerable to other social inequalities such as poverty, medical bias, historical trauma, and other conditions.
In this issue, we dive deeper into some of the considerations, perspectives, and best practices for the engagement of transgender populations in our research. It is my hope that this issue enhances your understanding of the dynamic lives of transgender people, and gives you a glimpse into the topics and concerns that should be considered when engaging transgender persons in HIV prevention research. In this issue, we offer perspectives from members of the population, overviews of research done with transgender populations, and other information that I hope you find useful.
None of this is a substitute for effective community engagement in your own local communities, and as always, the best way to ensure that the voices of any community or population are heard is to meaningfully engage and include them. When you engage transgender persons and ask for their input and perspective, do so from a place of sincere humility, and be prepared to be responsive to the feedback you receive.
Please help us ensure that this publication is representative of our entire global HVTN community! HVTN members (who have access to the HVTN member's website) can use our submission page that offers the ability to submit content and articles for inclusion in future issues.
Thank you for your continued support of the HVTN wherever you are in the world, for the work that you do in whatever role you have in the HVTN community, and for the impact we have been able to make in our collective history and communities, together. Though we have come very far in response to the HIV epidemic, we have so much further to go to achieve an effective global HIV vaccine. The HVTN Community Compass team wants to be everywhere you are, so please share with us what's happening at your research sites, institutions, and in your communities, so that we can share it with the world.
Stephaun E. Wallace, PhD
Editor-in-Chief, HVTN Community Compass