AVAC Statement on Engagement with the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industry

December 2020

Since its founding in 1995, AVAC has maintained a policy that it does not accept pharmaceutical industry funding. This policy is designed to help safeguard AVAC’s role as an independent advocate for HIV prevention and health equity, and to reduce the possibility, or any possible appearance, of conflict of interest around AVAC advocacy on issues affecting the healthcare industry.

This policy does not prevent, and in fact is designed to protect the integrity of, AVAC’s ongoing advocacy and engagement with pharmaceutical and other companies around issues related to HIV prevention research and implementation. In recent years, as the range of marketed HIV prevention options has expanded, AVAC’s work on product introduction and access has grown, via both the Prevention Market Manager (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and the OPTIONS and PROMISE consortia (funded by USAID).

AVAC engagement with the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry can take many forms, including:

  1. Facilitating civil society input into company product development, including community engagement around the design and conduct of clinical trials.
  2. Eliciting and disseminating information on company research or products.
  3. Approaching companies to resolve issues around their research, products or programs.
  4. Advocacy to improve company practices around research design, research engagement, pricing or product access.

AVAC’s decision to engage is based upon whether engagement will have impact by accelerating the development, introduction and/or delivery of new HIV prevention options. We believe principles around transparent engagement with industry have strengthened AVAC’s role as an independent watchdog for more than 25 years.

To further advance these, all AVAC board members, board advisors, staff and consultants are required to abide by the organization’s Conflict of Interest Policy, which prohibits:

  • Serving as a director, employee, committee member or consultant, or in any other formal capacity (paid or unpaid) to AVAC vendors or grantees, or to any organization or group whose activities include HIV prevention research advocacy, without written approval from the Executive Director or President of the Board.
  • Receiving any direct or indirect material benefit from any grant, financial or other decision made by AVAC.
  • Receiving any gifts valued over $25, or any honorary degrees, awards, fees, loans or honoraria arising from work with AVAC.
  • Buying or selling securities of any company using non-public information obtained in the performance of work on behalf of AVAC, or providing that information to anyone else.

Building on these policies, and in an effort to continually strengthen our position as a transparent and trustworthy partner, AVAC commits to:

  • Engage with pharmaceutical and other companies according to the Good Participatory Practice (GPP) Guidelines and international regulatory standards.
  • Engage openly, transparently and without favoritism with companies, and be willing to share information and perspective with all.
  • Maintain mechanisms as part of AVAC’s ongoing monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) system to track industry engagement for board, management and partners to review and assess for any real or perceived conflicts and any real or perceived changes in AVAC advocacy due to industry relationships.
  • Ensure industry engagement is considered as part of AVAC’s risk management strategy to ensure active identification and management of real and perceived conflicts.
  • Continually review and refine the organization’s principles and policies on engagement with industry, and strategies to support the identification and management of any real or perceived conflicts of interest.

More information on AVAC funders is available here.