An HIV vaccine is the world’s best long-term hope for ending HIV/AIDS. There is truth to the statement, “It takes a village.” In our case, we are fortunate to have a hardworking, collaborative, diverse group of team members that make up our village, united in this effort against HIV. The HIV Vaccine Trials Network is an international partnership of research scientists, clinical trial sites, laboratories, funders, regulators and ethicists, participants, volunteers and community representatives working with industry, academia, and governments in the global search for a preventive HIV vaccine.
Supported through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the HVTN conducts all phases of clinical trials, from evaluating candidate vaccines for safety and the ability to stimulate immune responses, to testing vaccine efficacy. Headquartered at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, the Network includes over 30 sites on five continents.
Clinical Trial Sites: Our clinical trial sites are the HVTN’s front-line staff that does the most important work of engaging and enrolling participants for our studies. The sites are selected through a competitive process administered by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The principal investigators at each site have expertise in HIV, immunology, and vaccinology, and oversee multi-disciplinary teams that include research scientists, clinicians, and laboratory, pharmacy, and outreach personnel. These teams are knowledgeable about their local epidemics and local populations, enabling the HVTN to achieve our mission.
Vaccine Developers: The HVTN does not develop vaccine candidates ourselves. We rely on the expertise of others, who bring their products to us to test in clinical trials. Our developers include biotech companies, academic institutions, and pharmaceutical companies, representing the best the scientific community has to offer.
Funders: The HVTN is supported through a cooperative agreement with the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health. We are proud to be one of 5 research networks funded by DAIDS. We are also grateful for a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is enabling us to scale up our efforts in Southern Africa in preparation for larger efficacy trials in the coming years.
Communities: Since its formation in 1999, the HVTN has incorporated communities into all aspects of our work. In addition to local Community Advisory Boards (CABs) at each clinical research site, community members serve on Network committees and are part of Network governance. The HVTN follows the principals of Good Participatory Practice. We rely on input from members of the community to help ensure that our trials follow the highest standards of research ethics and are relevant to the communities that participate in our studies.
Regulators and Ethicists: The HVTN follows the regulations of every country in which we work. We work closely with each of the national regulatory agencies, including the FDA in the U.S., INS (Instituto Nacional de Salud) in Peru, Swissmedic for Switzerland, and the MCC in South Africa. As new issues in HIV prevention arise we consult with experts in the field of research ethics. All of our studies go through layers of regulatory review including at the local and national levels.
Participants/Volunteers: These individuals are the true heroes in the HVTN! Scientists cannot do this work by themselves. We rely on the people who join a clinical trial, the members of our local and global Community Advisory Boards, and all who help spread the message about the hope offered by a preventive vaccine against HIV. Without this support, HIV vaccine research could not move forward.