December 31, 2011
On October 20th, AVAC and the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) conducted a national workshop on the Good Participatory Practice (GPP) guidelines. About 70 individuals participated, representing research teams throughout the country, community advisory boards, advocacy and civil society groups, and media. The workshop was designed as a key step forward in building stronger relationships between the media and Zambian research stakeholders. In 2009, media reports disseminated inaccurate rumors regarding a large-scale microbicide trial, MDP 301. As a result, the Zambian Ministry of Health temporarily halted all HIV prevention research in the country. Today, prevention trials are being approved and initiated once again and work is ongoing to strengthen media reporting capacity. The past year—in part due to AVAC Fellow Oliver Kanene’s work—has marked a thawing of the relationship between researchers and the media. Introducing the guidelines to this audience helped put a needed and appreciated framework around how to navigate relationships between researchers and other stakeholders. Media and other key groups, namely regulatory and ethics authorities, are extremely excited to develop a “national GPP consensus” that will mitigate possible controversy in the future and ensure that research can move forward in this country.