The scientific part of the AIDS Vaccine 2010 meeting began Tuesday evening with an exciting summary of issues facing the field from NIAID director Tony Fauci. But before that, participants in this yearâ€™s conference got a chance to warm up with several â€œsatellite sessions.â€
One of them, â€œEffective Community Engagement in HIV Vaccine Research Among Communities and Researchers,â€ was organized by Paula Frew, PhD, director of health communications and applied community research at Emoryâ€™s Hope Clinic.
Two prominent themes emerged from this session. The first was that community members should be involved in clinical trials at every step of the process: from design and recruitment to dissemination of results.
â€œIn the past, scientists often came to the community late in the process, after a protocol for a study was already approved, and said: â€œWill you support what weâ€™ve already decided?â€ said Steve Wakefield of HIV Vaccine Trials Network. â€œThis doesnâ€™t work.â€
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and AVAC presented proposed guidelines for â€œgood participatory practice,â€ analogous to good clinical practices.
Another theme that emerged from the satellite session was the search for more flexible â€œadaptiveâ€ clinical trial formats. Glenda Gray from South Africaâ€™s University of the Witwatersrand emphasized that adaptive trials could be faster and avoid enrollment of large numbers of patients unnecessarily.