community engagementWomen participate in group awareness activities under the guidance of community health workers in Chennai, India. Photo credit: Anirban Dutta

IAVI advocacy work engages policymakers, scientists, activists, civil society organizations, influencers, community representatives, and stakeholders across the world to ensure that necessary resources and policies can sustain local, regional, and global support for vaccine development and new biomedical prevention approaches. IAVI recognizes that these approaches must reflect regional realities and priorities essential to ending AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) as well as addressing other unmet global health challenges. IAVI’s advocacy partners — from the community to the global level — mobilize a comprehensive response to disease prevention while ensuring decision-makers have the information and evidence to make informed choices about supporting global health solutions. This work has forged the path for HIV vaccines to be listed as national health research priorities in many countries where the organization works. IAVI, in partnership with the Uganda AIDS Commission, has also developed guidelines and a road map for delivering HIV and AIDS services in vulnerable Ugandan fishing communities. These national commitments translate into increased domestic support for strengthening research and regulatory facilities, as well as inclusive and effective health policies.

IAVI’s careful and informed approach to community engagement is essential to conduct safe and ethical HIV, TB and EID research in a way that avoids the potential for social harm such as discrimination, gender-based violence and stigma to study participants, especially those most vulnerable, including adolescent women and young girls, men who have sex with men, transgender women, and fishing communities. The IAVI model for community engagement continues to demonstrate that many marginalized and vulnerable communities are accessible and, with careful outreach initiatives, are eager to participate in potentially lifesaving scientific research. Activities such as India’s experiential learning, interactive theatre, and creative arts-based approaches demystify clinical trials for potential participants. Such work is essential for ensuring a fully informed and balanced representation of key populations in clinical trials.