GPP Activities Gain Momentum in Thailand

Implementation of the Good Participatory Practice (GPP) guidelines continues to move forward in Thailand. The Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS led trainings for research organizations including the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center, the Research Institute for Health Sciences from Chiang Mai University and the Armed Forces Research Institute for Medical Sciences. These groups represent key networks in the HIV prevention research field including the HPTN, ACTG, IMPAACT and MTN.

Thailand has a long history of community engagement in HIV research. The GPP trainings, however, highlight some key challenges and issues not unlike those experienced in other areas of the world. One ongoing need in Thailand and around the world is to map out processes for promoting and institutionalizing GPP at national levels (e.g. via official adopting by institutional review boards). There is also a gap in terms of systems for monitoring and evaluating GPP implementation where it is being implemented. Other enduring challenges involve dependence on community advisory boards as the primary mechanism for stakeholder engagement (GPP suggests using multiple channels to reach impacted communities), and the limited budgets available for stakeholder engagement.

Open, frank discussion about these issues between community and researchers represents a true shift in practice in Thailand, and key researchers are becoming both more accepting of full GPP implementation and aware of its positive impact on the research process. For instance, the director of the AIDS Research Center at the Thai Red Cross, stayed and engaged in almost the full day of the training, even though he had only committed to coming and opening the session.

Moving forward, potential plans include additional trainings for new protocol/trial teams, piloting of GPP in a “test and treat” study in MSM and follow-on studies from RV 144, and continued sharing of lessons and practices between institutions.

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PxROAR Europe in Action

HIV prevention research took the stage at the 110th “jubilee congress” of the German STI Society (DSTIG) in Berlin last week. At the invitation of the organisers, AVAC and HIV Europe co-hosted a symposium—Modern Prevention Strategies—where panelists and audience members discussed the state of the art in HIV prevention and what modern prevention strategies mean for different affected communities in the region.

Members of PxROAR Europe were among those leading the discussions. Harriet Langanke, of the German Sexuality and Health Foundation (GSSG), led a session focusing largely on some of the highly affected communities in the region—migrant women and gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM)—and the potential opportunities for members of these communities to access to new all HIV prevention options.

Wezi Thamm, Chair of the international network WECARe+ (Women in Europe and Central Asia Regions Living with HIV) and a migrant from Zambia herself, made clear that legal conditions, language barriers and lack of insurance too often hinder migrant women from accessing HIV prevention and care. She demanded not only the development of new prevention options but that the prevention field focus on and address issues that may limit access.

During a special “poster walk” exploring the featured poster area at the conference, Harriet presented an abstract (co-authored by other PxROAR Europe members): Modern HIV Prevention Strategies: What are the implications for German populations? Community perspectives (click to download).

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Activists Strategize in Peru

In May, AVAC partner Epicentro led a civil society meeting, Activism, Access to Health Services for LGBT and Biomedical HIV Prevention, to develop a plan for engaging with biomedical HIV prevention research occurring in Peru. Local advocates, including MSM sex workers and people living with HIV, participated in the two-day conference. (Download the agenda: English and Spanish.) The objectives were to promote a common understanding of the PrEP and rectal microbicide research taking place in the country and to identify strategies for community mobilization on these issues, HIV treatment and prevention, and LGBT health in general. The resulting advocacy agenda articulated a demand for access to affordable TDF/FTC for treatment of HIV-positive people—an issue that must be addressed before oral PrEP using TDF/FTC in HIV-negative people can be fully explored. It also identified the need for journalist training, sensitization of health workers on LGBT health issues, and general awareness-raising on biomedical HIV prevention.

Communities of gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender women have some of the highest rates of HIV in Peru. Yet access to HIV testing, care and treatment is limited—due to many factors including stigma, lack of gay-friendly services, and lack of awareness of health care rights among affected communities. Advocacy also includes continued support for ARV-based prevention research— the iPrEx OLE open-label extension PrEP study; MTN 017, the first phase II rectal microbicide trial; and early phase vaccine studies. For example, in March, Epicentro, AVAC, IRMA, IMPACTA and MTN organized a community consultation for the pending MTN 017 trial. Most meeting attendees were Lima locals, but there was representation from elsewhere in Peru as well as Paraguay and Argentina.

The next steps are to prioritize and operationalize the objectives generated at the meeting. To join the burgeoning network of local and regional Latin American advocates spearheaded by Epicentro, contact Steve Miralles at or join the group directly at

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