Do you know a courageous and inspiring young activist, advocate or community engagement worker who impressed and inspired you in 2020? Someone who innovated to ensure that research continued safely despite COVID-19? Someone who advocated to ensure that HIV treatment, care and prevention did not stop? Someone who shone a light on human rights violations, or who demanded that community voices help shape the response? Consider nominating them for this award! Submission deadline is January 4. Learn more at www.avac.org/falobi.
As 2020 comes to an end, we hope this finds you in a place that allows for rest, rejuvenation and reflection. In a profoundly challenging year, we at AVAC draw strength from all of our allies and partners and have a renewed sense of gratitude—for the dynamic leadership of civil society, for the power and promise of scientific inquiry, for evidence-based decisions, and for voters who support democratic principles. We know 2021 will bring new challenges, new choices and new clarity. And now more than ever, we need to be strong, prepared and resilient.
In a world turned upside down by another global pandemic and economic recession, and with support from all of you, we have seen how essential it is for advocacy and health systems to ensure we protect global gains against HIV and other health threats, even as COVID-19 disrupted supply chains and access to care.
We have joined our partners in an extraordinary effort, engaging researchers, regulators and communities to build a global response to COVID-19 based on equity and to build a movement for pandemic preparedness.
This resilience must deepen and expand in 2021—COVID-19, HIV, siloed-responses, vaccine nationalism and inequitable access are not over, far from it. In the days to come, we at AVAC hope you will rest, rejuvenate and prepare, because in 2021 the world will need your fierce voices and actions more than ever.
To help prepare, we’ve gathered below AVAC resources to support our collective work in 2021. And to help us, if you can, please consider a contribution to keep this work moving by visiting www.avac.org/donate.
Reading and Resources for the Holidays and Beyond:
- For a quick, sharp take on where HIV prevention advocacy is headed in 2021, read AVAC’s Dear World letter.
- Listen to CAB-LA is Highly Effective; Now what, our latest Px Pulse podcast exploring the early results from trials testing cabotegravir as a long-acting injectable PrEP. The podcast also takes up what comes next in planning for the rollout of CAB-LA alongside oral PrEP and the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring. And check out a host of resources on the dedicated CAB-LA page.
- Listen to A Leap Forward For The Dapivirine Vaginal Ring, the Next Steps Are Critical, our podcast featuring five perspectives in on next steps for the ring. For a deeper dive, check out Understanding the EMA Opinion and Next Steps for the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring.
- Check out new resources on Antibody-Related Research, particularly Amp-ticipation: Context and concepts for understanding the AMP Trials, a blog by AVAC co-founder Bill Snow.
- Designing a New Generation of Prevention Efficacy Trials, also by Bill Snow, lays out basic concepts in innovations in trial design and an analysis of the implications for advocacy.
- Women and Girls at the Center is a joint initiative between AVAC and FP2020 and features resources to champion the integration of sexual and reproductive health with HIV prevention and treatment. Download a webinar, One Year After ECHO: Innovation in the time of COVID, and find links to a host of resources to inform your advocacy.
- A Dynamic New Global PrEP Tracker provides a whole new way to visualize and explore the data from our Global PrEP Tracker, a database that documents oral PrEP uptake around the world.
- Advocate’s Guide To COVID-19 Vaccine Access is a plain-language guide on the necessary components for equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Cheat Sheet: COVID-19 Vaccine Pipeline provides an at-a-glance view of the funders, platforms, research phase and considerations for some of the front-runner candidates.
- Protecting Global Gains is a partnership of Amref Health Africa, AVAC, and Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria that documents innovative solutions to the impact of COVID-19 on health programs all over the world.
- Why exciting results from vaccine research are just the beginning of efforts to end COVID-19, a Devex op-ed, written by AVAC’s Mitchell Warren, focuses on lessons from HIV to ensure effective COVID-19 vaccine becomes accessible to the people who need it.
- For our last word in 2020, we invite advocates, activists, supporters, allies and friends to share in our celebration of two remarkable achievements this year: AVAC’s 25th year as a champion for HIV prevention research, and the 10th year of AVAC’s extraordinary Fellows Program. Click through to see a timeline of growth and impact for AVAC at large, and explore this report to learn more about the strength and reach of the Fellows Program.
There will be no issue for the next two weeks. The NewsDigest will return on January 8, 2021. Our best wishes for happy holidays and a peaceful new year, and our thanks for reading!
A brand-new episode of AVAC’s Px Pulse podcast is ready for download. Tune in to hear the promise and complexities of long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA)—the latest proven HIV prevention method.
Amidst a year rife with challenges, some of the best news was born out of the HIV prevention research field. This included early results from two trials—HPTN 083 and HPTN 084—showing CAB-LA was safe and highly effective at preventing HIV when compared to daily oral TDF/FTC (Truvada) in men who have sex with men, transgender women and cisgender women. Overall HIV incidence rates in the trials were remarkably low, demonstrating that both oral and injectable PrEP are safe and effective options—an especially important finding for cisgender women, for whom oral PrEP data had been inconsistent.
In this episode of Px Pulse, Raphael Landovitz and Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, lead investigators of the HPTN 083 and 084 trials, respectively, set the stage with topline research findings and discuss how CAB-LA might fit in with existing HIV prevention options. And with eyes on implementation, Definate Nhamo, a program manager from Pangaea Zimbabwe AIDS Trust (PZAT), and Jason Reed, a technical advisor with Jhpiego, outline priorities for the work ahead in policy making, programming, advocacy and funding to get CAB-LA programmed as part of a growing array of HIV prevention options.
Check out AVAC’s dedicated webpage on CAB-LA for a curated list of research and advocacy resources.
At a time when staying connected and learning from one another at a distance is more important than ever, AVAC is excited to announce a new online platform for peer-to-peer resource sharing, collaborative learning and joint strategy development called Engage.
The Engage platform offers:
Free Online Courses
- Strengthening Stakeholder Engagement Through Ethics Review – HIV Prevention – A self-guided, interactive course rooted in ethics guidelines that provides an overview of the core practices and features of “engaged” clinical trials.
- Data Training for Advocacy – A facilitated course designed to build and strengthen the collection, analysis and use of data as part of advocacy efforts. (The next offering will begin in Q1 2021.)
- Good Participatory Practice Online Training Course – A facilitated training designed to help site-level implementers and advocates understand and translate the guidelines into practice. (The next offering will begin in Q1 2021.)
These online spaces allow you to connect with experts, find and post resources, and contribute to conversations with your peers in forums organized around a central theme. Check out spaces like the Research Literacy Networking Zone for information on the HIV research pipeline. Watch that space for pop-up conversations hosted around the HIV R4P conference in early 2021!
Group leaders organize pop-up conversations and webinars with experts relevant to the news of the day and emerging themes. Check out two of the recent offerings below:
- Heidi Larson and Charles Wiysonge discussed the challenges of rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine in the context of growing vaccine hesitancy. In a session moderated by Tian Johnson of the Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group, these experts discussed potential strategies for advocates and community engagement practitioners to respond.
- Rena Janamnuaysook led a webinar for the Stakeholder Engagement Community of Practice on the Tangerine Clinic in Thailand, a full service transgender health and HIV prevention clinic. Janamnuaysook discussed how the clinic has shifted services during COVID-19 research and what new models (PrEP home delivery by motorbike) they are considering keeping long-term.
We are always adding new materials and resources, including a suite of new courses planned for release in 2021. If an essential group or resource is missing, let us know. Engage is a platform for all and we welcome your ideas for improvements and leadership on the platform!
Register for your free account today!
AVAC’s Advocacy Fellows Program is celebrating 10 years of fostering the development and expansion of a network of deeply informed, skilled and courageous HIV prevention advocates. Since its launch in 2009, 77 Fellows from 14 countries have participated in the Fellows program. They have changed policy, championed community perspectives, strengthened healthcare systems, demystified HIV prevention research, and insisted on fairness and transparency, acting locally, regionally and globally.
On the program’s 10th anniversary, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating this milestone. We want to take a moment to share our thanks and our plans for the program’s future.
To the 77 Advocacy Fellows, thank you for your passion, your effort, your accomplishments, and for trusting the program and the team to support you in moving the dial.
To the 67 hosting organizations, thank you for putting faith in the program and offering steadfast support and mentorship to a generation of HIV prevention advocates and activists who are making the world better one advocacy demand at a time.
And thank you to all the stakeholders who have partnered with AVAC Fellows on project after project since 2009.
Fellows Program: Into the next decade
AVAC is proud to share a final report from an independent evaluation of the program, based on interviews and surveys from alumni, hosting organizations and external stakeholders. The evaluation assessed the program’s impact and contributions—both intended and unintended—on the Fellows, the issues they worked on and the communities they serve.
The report found, “The Advocacy Fellows Program is beneficial to participants, and has durable impacts on the Fellow, both personally and professionally. By influencing the Fellow at a personal level, the Fellowship contributes to changes in the HIV landscape at organizational, community and national levels. The Fellowship Program therefore remains relevant in all countries of operation but should take on certain recommendations in order to build on the significant gains already evidenced and increase its effectiveness in each context.” Alumni are leaders and change-agents in all the spaces they work in—influencing processes and policies, ensuring community voices are amplified, and transforming HIV prevention in their communities.
We are excited to build on these recommendations and expand on the success of the program. Alumni and host organizations will join AVAC in a series of working groups in early 2021 to help shape Fellows 2.0.
The Fellows Program has a new look on the AVAC website
To commemorate the program’s 10th anniversary, the Fellows page on AVAC.org has a new look and new resources. Check out the video featuring Fellows Alumni and don’t miss the new section “Where Are They Now?”, showcasing their significant and ongoing contributions in HIV advocacy. Please let us know what you think and help celebrate the Alumni network. Share your thoughts on the Fellows Program with #AVACFellows on social media platforms and @HIVpxresearch on Twitter.
Update on the 2020 Fellows
The 2020 cadre of Fellows began their fellowship year right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, affecting communities across the world, even as critical issues continued to demand action in HIV prevention. The Fellows adapted and innovated—despite uncertainty, delays and losses—and rose to the challenge. Please read more about the 2020 Fellows and the strides they have been making. In light of these extraordinary times, the 2020 Fellowship year is being extended and the call for the next cadre of Fellows will be announced in 2021.
At AVAC, we know the voices from the first decade of AVAC Fellows, and the ones to come, are crucial. They push the field at large and engage their communities directly. In every corner of the field, they play a leading role in the essential work of accelerating ethical research and equitable access in the context of transparency and accountability so that HIV interventions have real impact by reaching those who need them most.
We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the work of these Fellows and keep watching for the great work to come!
The latest edition of Protecting Global Gains profiles an effort in Benin that may stave off a feared spike in malaria due to disrupted healthcare support during COVID-19.
The recently released WHO World Malaria Report 2020 highlights what is at stake if COVID-19 derails malaria prevention and treatment efforts—models estimate malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could nearly double in 2020. A Better Way to Distribute Bed Nets explores how health officials in Benin are adapting and deploying new technologies to bring mosquito-blocking bed nets exactly where they are needed, despite the pandemic. These innovations will reap public-health benefits well beyond COVID-19.
Bed nets are to malaria what masks are to COVID-19: simple tools that can be extremely effective, but only if people have access to them and use them properly—a particular challenge in the midst of pandemic restrictions. To address this, health officials with Benin’s National Malaria Control Program, in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), are using geotagged data to deliver bed nets door-to-door. By combining digital technology with community-based health practice, the Ministry of Health has distributed more than 7 million bed nets to 3 million households—in the middle of a COVID-19 lockdown.
While this approach was adopted out of necessity, it also removes barriers for households who may not have had the ability to travel to a distribution site, and points the way to community-based delivery of a whole range of basic health services, including HIV medications and family planning supplies.
Follow the Protecting Global Gains series on social media at @hivpxresearch, @theglobalfight, @Amref_Worldwide and #ProtectingGlobalGains, and consider amplifying these stories on your own social media. Advocates can call for national and international action to reinvigorate the fight against malaria and support critical work to distribute mosquito nets. Visit www.protectingglobalgains.org to learn more about how to take action.
On Tuesday, December 8 at 11am ET, the International AIDS Society’s Towards an HIV Cure initiative is hosting a webinar, Paving the way for an HIV cure: Introducing Target Product Profiles (TPP) and the HIV Cure Africa Acceleration Partnership (HCAAP), to unpack two new articles just published in The Lancet HIV.
The articles argue why now is the time to focus on advancing HIV cure research. Outputs of a 2019 meeting of global stakeholders, these articles—The case for an HIV cure and how to get there and Multi Stakeholder Consensus on a Target Product Profile for an HIV Cure—make the case for the role an HIV cure can play in ending the epidemic, and share a roadmap to get there, including the role of community advocates.
As described in the articles and to be discussed on next week’s webinar, there is a need now for community advocates to provide input on acceptability of potential cure interventions, help to shape the policy environment, and enhance the capacity needed for cure trials, such as robust HIV and viral load testing. To that end, the proposed HCAAP plans to coordinate key stakeholders (e.g., regulators, funders, civil society, Ministries Of Health, researchers, etc.) across the public and private sectors to drive the development of a community-led cure research agenda and speed up access to a potential strategy in the future.
The companion article describes how multiple stakeholders came together to develop a TPP for an HIV cure strategy in Africa. A TPP is a living document that sets goal posts for what an ideal and acceptable product might look like for a specific population, which gives researchers, product developers, policy makers and advocates a roadmap to develop a strategy that can be delivered right away.
We hope you will join next week’s conversation and happy reading!
This December 1st is a busy one for AVAC—in addition to being World AIDS Day, it also marks our 25th anniversary advocating for the ethical development and accelerated delivery of HIV prevention options that work for the people who need them most. And this year it’s also #GivingTuesday.
It’s a time of tremendous change, challenge and possibility. AVAC and our partners have been forging a path through this shifting terrain with our eyes on a transformational and utterly achievable goal—equity-driven pandemic preparedness at the global level.
Far-sighted evidence-based, human-rights-centered advocacy has always been at the heart of AVAC’s work, since we began advocacy for the ethical development of an HIV vaccine in 1995. Check out our timeline for a snapshot of our work and milestones in the field over the past 25 years.
In AVAC’s letter marking World AIDS Day, we stake out three actions as 2021 advocacy priorities—program for choice, invest in cadres of community health workers, and pursue equitable access to essential health products and services. These priorities draw from our knowledge that progress against HIV has been remarkable and highly unequal. That important but uneven progress is now threatened by the ravages of COVID-19, which in turn stems from a world that has so far failed to invest in the systems that forestall pandemics.
At AVAC, our programs, partnerships, publications, convenings and advocacy tools are framing the issues, helping to identify opportunities to advance the work, and supporting a cadre of informed advocates to engage with global health decision-makers. Our advocacy priorities for HIV prevention demand a similar determination to apply what we’ve learned to global pandemics writ large, to protect the global gains and usher in a newly possible equitable response to pandemics.
- Grassroots organizing by and for young women who know the options they need
- Rigorous, data-driven campaigns to shift policies and targets at country and global level
- A cadre of LGBT and key population activists committed to ensuring human rights in biomedical strategies
- Analysis, infographics and explanatory materials for today’s most complex topics from research to rollout of biomedical interventions for HIV and COVID-19
This #GivingTuesday, we hope you’ll consider supporting this work!
There are several ways to share your financial support:
- Donate via our website: Visit www.avac.org/donate.
- Amazon Smile: Shop at Amazon.com Visit smile.amazon.com and select AVAC as your charity of choice and a portion of your purchase price is donated to AVAC—at no additional cost to you!
- US Combined Federal Campaign: If you are a US government employee, support our mission through the Combined Federal Campaign, CFC #12308.
As Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said in reference to their new report Prevailing against pandemics by putting people at the centre, “No country can defeat these pandemics on its own. A challenge of this magnitude can only be defeated by forging global solidarity, accepting a shared responsibility and mobilizing a response that leaves no one behind. We can do this by sharing the load and working together.”
Please consider supporting AVAC if you can, and we look forward to working with you going forward!