Welcome to the latest edition of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) Community Compass.
In this issue, we acknowledge the recent passing of our dear colleague and long-time HIV activist Giulio Corbelli, a recent announcement of Dr. Anthony Fauci stepping down from his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a recent statement from experts regarding the importance of including people living with HIV in TB research, a historic Global Fund replenishment, a story about the impact of Monkeypox (MPX) on key communities, and Dr. Larry Corey’s recent Alexander Fleming award along with many other HVTN updates. We also must celebrate the amazing work that has gone into developing the Red Ribbon Registry for use by our US sites and the marketing campaign that accompanies it (which you can review at www.helpendhiv.org), which will gradually expand to include all of the DAIDS networks, and the amazing work that went into refreshing our HVTN.org website. If you haven’t checked it out lately, I encourage you to do so!
While many communities are still grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, more health threats have emerged, impacting communities and causing concern. These including MPX, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and influenza. We are seeing cases and deaths related to COVID-19 decline globally. However, we must continue to acknowledge that the impacts and reality of the COVID-19 pandemic are not yet over, especially as we see diverse new SARS-CoV-2 variants (the virus that causes COVID-19) circulating that are being monitored for their potential to evade the immune responses created by our highly effective COVID-19 vaccines. We saw MPX spread with explosive force, and the messaging and vaccine equity issues observed in response have been reminiscent of not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the early days of the HIV epidemic so many years ago. MPX treatments and vaccines are being deployed, and it is hopeful that the most vulnerable communities will have access. We must continue the important discussions about the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that can be applied to HIV and other infectious diseases, and continue to stretch our thinking and expanding our hearts and minds to ensure that we are collectively moving forward in ways that do not leave people behind.
Finding a safe and effective HIV vaccine remains a key priority for the Network and our communities. Over the next couple of years, we will see many early phase studies launch that are focused on testing the safety of HIV vaccine candidates, seeking to better understand the immune responses generated by the vaccines, and exploring other strategies to vaccine development. These studies may sometimes be done in smaller numbers of people; however, we do have one large scale HIV vaccine efficacy study that is still in progress, Mosaico (HVTN 706) (www.mosaicostudy.org). We are looking forward to seeing results in the near future. This study uses a mosaic-based platform which supports the evaluation of the vaccine across various types of HIV found around the world.
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. More information about this follows on the "Meet the Community Compass Team" section. If you are a member of the general public and have questions or ideas for submission, please reach out to us via our information on the HVTN Community Compass home page: https://www.hvtn.org/community/community-compass.html.
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 a globally effective 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