The HVTN conducts all phases of clinical trials, bringing together experts from different sciences. Through this collaborative effort, the HVTN helps advance the HIV vaccinology field and, along the way, also helps advance the knowledge in fields as varied as social and behavioral sciences, statistics, and immunology. Our approach of integrated science give us the ability to look at the whole picture of HIV prevention, enabling us not only to fine-tune our study vaccines and recruiting methods, but also prepare for the day when an effective vaccine is found.
The questions we ask go far beyond, “Does this vaccine protect people from HIV/AIDS?” Here is a summary of how different sciences contribute to our overall mission.
The HVTN, with expert scientists from medical institutions across the globe alongside top clinicians, educators, and dedicated community representatives, is committed to conducting scientifically rigorous and ethical trials.
The HVTN maintains a vigorous program to facilitate the development of novel vaccine approaches. We are a leader in developing immunological assays to evaluate potential HIV vaccines. Our standardized assays and procedures provide rapid comparative data on experimental vaccines.
Our Laboratory Center has developed over 20 standardized assays that help us study immune responses in great detail and with significant accuracy. Descriptions of HVTN Laboratory Center assays can be found here.
Network researchers have developed several methods of sampling and processing samples from trial participants, allowing the HVTN to evaluate immune responses in different tissues and in blood. The differences in immune responses among different tissues and parts of the body can help design vaccines that target HIV at the places it is most likely to enter the body.
Conducting cutting edge analyses within the Network and collaboratively has resulted in significant changes and advances in HIV vaccines. These advances are described in publically available manuscripts.
HVTN statisticians develop statistical methods for clinical trial design and analysis. Their work includes creating a framework to understand immune responses, and developing new models for defining vaccine effects. Their achievements to date include:
The behavioral sciences examine how people act as individuals, and why they act in certain ways. The HVTN uses behavioral science methods to learn about behaviors affecting risk for becoming infected with HIV.
Accurate behavioral measures are important for many reasons, including:
The social sciences look at the interactions of humans with each other, in large and small groups. The HVTN uses theoretical models and evidence from social science to look at factors that may have an effect on the efficacy of our study vaccines, and to improve our strategies for engaging communities and recruiting study volunteers.
Our social science work benefits our mission in many ways, including: