Positive Experiences: Community, Science and CAB of UPqVac / DIP - UFMG!

Additional authors include Luize Campozzela,  Marcus Vinicius Trigueiro, Lucas Brás, Luciana Gravito, Max Nunes, and Pablo Silva.

4 site staff members smile for a group photo.
LGBTQIA+ Pride of Belo Horizonte - November 2022 (Pictured: Lucas Brás, Jeferson Fonseca, Luize Campozzela, and Marcus Vinicius Trigueiro)

The Community Advisory Board (CAB), coordinated by the Unit for Clinical Vaccine Trials of the Medical School of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UPqVac - UFMG), started its activities on May 25, 2006, in Belo Horizonte. Since its formation, the CAB has been actively advising on several studies from different clinical trials networks, taking information to the interested community about the importance of research, and ensuring that all volunteers have their rights guaranteed.

The Community Advisory Board for the Mosaico Study was established in 2019 and is composed of health worker representatives such as nurses, dentists, social workers; and representatives from NGOs such as:

  • Família Positiva, an organization that welcomes people living with HIV/AIDS  
  • TRANVEST, an organization that offers financial aid, basic education, psychological and medical care, and food baskets for 148 transgender women in Belo Horizonte
  • Horizonte Project, a research project with educational interventions about prevention of HIV/AIDS
  • Clã das Lobas, a collective of cis and transgender women sex workers from Belo Horizonte, and representatives from civil society and the LGBTQIA+ community.

Initially our meetings were held in person every month, where the schedules of duties were prepared and discussed. The first challenge we faced was the COVID-19 pandemic, and due to protective health measures, the meetings started to occur remotely. This demanded from us a greater strength to gather people and to carry out the activities. The CAB has developed partnerships with social movements that work in several areas of comprehensive health care and social welfare. This created a bridge to facilitate activities with an emphasis on potential study participants, as well as youth, women, and the LGBTQIA+ population.

9 people gather for a group photo.
Festa Junina in the community - CERs and CAB members of Belo Horizonte CRS– June 2022 (Pictured: Carlos Eduardo, Henrique Mesquele, Lucas Brás, Marcus Vinicius Trigueiro, Lorena Paiva, Jeferson Fonseca, Maria de Fatima, Luize Campozzela e Marciley Nunes)

Establishing dialogue with the community was an important step to understanding the need for information about HIV prevention, testing, diagnosis, and treatment that this population experiences.  The information was not always accessible and presented in the same way to everyone, so the inclusion of the key populations made it possible to better understand the participants. This brought the team closer to the lived reality of each participant, and provided an effective, safe, friendly, and individual service to each member of the team and the community in general.

The information and knowledge acquired since the CAB began its activities have allowed us to have more contact with the community, and access to a large number of people interested in contributing to science, to one's fellow human beings, and this effort. Stigma and prejudices are increasingly left behind. The partnership built between the CAB, the participants, and the site further strengthened the dialogue between peers and the community as a whole.

The responsibilities and activities of the CAB remain in place, and the demands raised at CAB meetings are fundamental for the construction of strategies and for understanding the needs of the populations involved, in addition to guaranteeing the rights of the participants within clinical trials. The CAB plays an important role within the community. Together with the Community Education Program, they have been doing educational work and walking together in the never-ending journey to improve the lives of these populations.

"The best way to build knowledge is through the exchange of experiences and information, considering the uniqueness of each individual."

Luize Campozzela

This report had the participation of Luize Campozzela; Marcus Vinicius Trigueiro; Lucas Brás, Jeferson Fonseca, Marciley Nunes, Luciana Gravito, Carlos Eduardo Ribas, Lorena Paiva; Yascarah Silva; Maria de Fatima Nascimento; Carlos Henrique and Pablo Moreira da Silva.

Staff members at Pride
Outreach for HIV prevention with the local community (Pictured: Marciley Nunes, Jeferson Fonseca, Luciana Gravito and Lucas Brás)