IAVI aims to reduce HIV, TB, other infectious and emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) through the research, development, and delivery of vaccines, antibody prevention products, and other innovative biomedical solutions. Critical to this mission is ensuring that IAVI’s innovations are acceptable, affordable, broadly available, and widely adopted.
Understanding needs and preferences to inform product development
For IAVI, understanding the needs and preferences of end users, health care providers, and policymakers is essential to developing and delivering products with the fewest barriers to access and the greatest potential for impact. As a key element of IAVI’s product development vision, we and our partners engage local communities to inform plans for product development and implementation in real-world settings. Three projects described below are examples of socio-behavioral and end-user research and collaborations needed to understand uptake, acceptability, and preferences to promote access to HIV prevention products.
In the India acceptability study IAVI seeks to understand end-user preferences, drivers of choice, decision levers, and pathways to uptake for HIV prevention products among populations disproportionately affected by HIV in India. This research also seeks to understand key health system and policy perspectives that may enable accelerated adoption and uptake of HIV products. The study is funded by the United States Agency for International Development. (USAID) and conducted in partnership with YRGCARE, Humsafar, C-SHARP, and Final Mile in the northern, southern, and western regions of India.
Through the Universally accessible HIV Prevention Technologies for African girls and young women through Knowledge applied from behavioral Economics (UPTAKE) initiative, IAVI is bringing together a multidisciplinary collaboration of experts in socio-behavioral science, health economics, and HIV prevention research from five leading research institutions in Kenya, Uganda, the Netherlands and the UK. Funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, this study seeks to accelerate access and facilitate adherence to innovative long-acting technologies to prevent HIV and unintended pregnancy in adolescent girls, young women, and female sex workers in sub-Saharan Africa.
A multisite study called MAGY, funded by USAID and expected to start by the end of 2022, will help to understand barriers to enrollment of adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in future HIV prevention research, as well as product preferences and socio-behavioral factors to improve the eventual uptake of prevention products.
Past projects to inform plans for future product development and implementation in real-world settings included interviewing 12 women living in Kenya and South Africa, who described the cultural and economic barriers that hinder their ability to protect themselves against HIV infection. “Through Our Eyes” documents their struggles and resilience, making a clear case for including women and girls in efforts to control and eradicate HIV/AIDS.
Identifying pathways for accelerated introduction and access
Historically, access to the newest health technologies has been slow in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). IAVI strives to change that by working to improve access and accelerate global access pathways for biomedical innovations.
In 2021, IAVI released the Evolving access pathways for long-acting HIV prevention products report, funded through an independent public policy grant from Merck, examining stakeholder perspectives and strategies to accelerate policy adoption, regulatory approval, financing, procurement, and health systems delivery of future HIV prevention products.
To highlight the imbalance in access to antibodies globally, IAVI, in collaboration with Wellcome, also published the Expanding access to monoclonal antibody-based products: A global call to action report to increase awareness and strengthen advocacy for global access to antibodies. Working alongside partners, IAVI and Wellcome launched a series of four webinars in 2020-2021 highlighting challenges and opportunities in the antibodies landscape and identifying strategies to accelerate global access to antibodies.
- Making monoclonal antibodies broadly accessible to communities most at risk of HIV/AIDS – What would it take? Partner: Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise at the International AIDS Society (IAS)
- Global access pathways for monoclonal antibodies: Can COVID-19 pave the way? Partners: Wellcome and Unitaid
- Innovative bio-therapeutics for COVID-19 – how can monoclonal antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 be made accessible in low-and middle-income countries? Partners: Department of Biotechnology (Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India) and Wellcome
- Enhancing regulatory and policy frameworks for monoclonal antibodies (mAb) in Africa: lessons learned from vaccines Partner: Wellcome
Findings from these webinars are reported in this commentary in HealthAffairs and this feature article on IAVI.org.
Generating evidence for policy adoption
With partners, IAVI is helping create an enabling environment for the adoption of future prevention products. With financial support from USAID and Wellcome, IAVI is working with the World Health Organization to develop guidance for product developers on the Preferred Product Characteristics for broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies for HIV prevention. By understanding the preferences and requirements of those using, implementing, financing, and procuring HIV prevention products early in development, IAVI and partners ensure products are developed to support eventual uptake.