HIV Vaccines

Real Reason Community Engagement Is Crucial To Developing Effective HIV Vaccines

HIV Vaccines

Real Reason Community Engagement Is Crucial To Developing Effective HIV Vaccines

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The real reason community engagement is crucial for developing effective HIV vaccines has been revealed.

A senior programme manager, Global Advocacy for HIV prevention, Maureen Luba Milambe emphasized the need for communication with stakeholders. Especially if it involves deliberation on HIV vaccines.

She noted this during a webinar organized in commemoration of HIV Vaccines Awareness Day which was held on Wednesday.

She said that communication would increase their chances of finding an effective HIV vaccine.

Milambe explained that most communities are not part of the forum where decisions regarding vaccines are discussed.

Joining other stakeholders at the webinar organized by the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation in partnership with Advocacy for Prevention of HIV and AIDS, South Africa, Milambe listed some stakeholders. They are:

  • Communities.
  • The industry.
  • Pharmaceutical companies.
  • Researchers.
  • International NGOs.
  • Policymakers.
  • Regulatory bodies.
  • Funders.

Her words: 

“For us to achieve the level of coordination that is desired for us to make progress in finding an effective HIV vaccine, I think there will be a need for transparency, information sharing, making sure all stakeholders are given an equal voice especially when decisions are being made in terms of which vaccine candidates have to go into clinical trials, which locations do we allocate vaccine trials.”

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Milambe noted that it will take a lot of collaboration and bridging gaps in terms of communication to ensure that there is a shared vision and common understanding of the importance of an HIV vaccine.

She continued:

“Having an open honest dialogue among stakeholders and most importantly, working together and making sure that we all have a shared vision on why we need an HIV vaccine and that all of us are geared towards making sure that the reason, is for public health benefit at large and not just because maybe we want to make a profit.

“As we move into the new phase, all of us should create more platforms that bring together all relevant stakeholders in one place.

“We need more platforms that bring together stakeholders so we can work together, think together, and move towards the same direction with a shared vision and mission.”

She stated the significance of establishing a trust to reduce vaccine hesitancy in the communities.

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Milambe continued:

“We need to make sure that we are building that trust early on so that once we have an effective HIV Vaccine, vaccine hesitancy shouldn’t be an issue.”

“The HIV platform has helped to produce a lot of COVID-19 vaccines and this is why we need to reflect on how we can re-invest the same energy, strategy, approaches and coordination and then apply that to the HIV vaccine research.”

Prof Linda-Gail Bakker who also spoke at the webinar said that the African continent would partake in the vaccine trial.

Prof Bekker is a physician-scientist and Chief Operating Officer of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.

Source: PUNCH HealthWise

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